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Roger Evans Associates Limited
E design@rogerevans.com
W www.rogerevans.com




English Partnerships is the national force for regeneration and development. Our aim
is to deliver high-quality, well-designed, sustainable places for people to live, work and
enjoy. English Partnerships firmly believes in the importance of good urban design and
environmental sustainability. Through policy developments we encourage: sustainable
approaches to living throughout our developments, a mix of uses and tenures to create lively
places to live and work, and innovation in design and construction of the built environment.
Through collaborative design workshops new developments will enjoy vibrant but safe
streets and places, and high-quality public realm. By encouraging an inclusive approach to
design, we can create environments that can meet the needs of all users. In this way, English
Partnerships can continue to play an important role in promoting best practice in design
quality and sustainability in the regeneration and development industry.


The Housing Corporation regulates Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) in England and
invests in the new housing that they provide. The Corporation’s role and strategy reflect the
rapid growth of the RSL sector. This is a result of both the transfer of local authority housing
to new or existing RSLs and of new development and regeneration, supported with a mix
of public and private funding. In all aspects of RSLs’ work, the Corporation encourages
quality in design and service standards and recognises the need for close cooperation with
residents and other agencies. This is to ensure that resources are used to best effect to
create sustainable communities.

Urban Design Alliance: Message of Support

The Urban Design Alliance (UDAL) is delighted to support English Partnerships and the
Housing Corporation in the second edition of the Urban Design Compendium 1 and the
new publication of Urban Design Compendium 2. UDAL brings together professional
and membership organisations committed to improving the quality of urban life through
urban design, aiming to foster greater awareness and higher standards. Urban Design
Compendium 2, like the first volume, will make a significant contribution to achieving
these goals, helping developers and other practitioners achieve good design through
best practice and creative thinking. The Compendium is an important document for
developers, urban designers, planners, architects, surveyors, landscape architects,
engineers, building conservationists and a wide range of other people concerned with
improving the built environment.




1.1 Urban design policy 17 4.1 Design quality and planning control 141
1.2 Urban design frameworks 25 4.2 Delivering the transport element 149
1.3 Sustainable design 33 4.3 Delivering street and service infrastructure 156
1.4 Character and identity 41 4.4 Constructing quality places 164
1.5 Engaging the community 49
2. INTEGRATED DESIGN 57 5.1 Managing physical assets 173
2.1 An integrated approach 59 5.2 Establishing a management structure 181
2.2 Implications for urban form 65 5.3 Ensuring that communities are
self-sustaining 187
2.3 Achieving mixed-use 77
2.4 Density 84
2.5 Streets as places 92
List of case studies 197
Index 205
3.1 Why good design? 103 Acknowledgements 207
3.2 Adding value through design 110
3.3 Defining the right mechanism and team 117
3.4 Parceling land and phasing 124
3.5 Procuring quality partners 131



The quality of the places we live in has an impact on all

aspects of life. How well they are designed will influence how
safe we feel, how easy it is to walk round, whether we have
shops, community facilities and schools nearby, whether our
children have safe places to play. It will also effect whether
there is good access to public transport and a good choice of
homes in which to live. It is essential that the places we create
and improve embody the principles of good urban design.

Good urban design is essential to deliver places which

are sustainable on all counts: places that create social,
environmental and economic value. Ensuring that places are
well designed should be a priority of everyone involved in
shaping and maintaining the built environment.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 1

Learning from the past
Brunswick Town, Hove

Brunswick Town in Hove is one of the best examples of the years including a riding school. It is currently a venue for the
Regency planning and urban design in the country. It arts, education and the community. The square and public park
was developed between 1824 and 1840 as a mini town, ensures that the high density and lack of private open space are
with a range of housing types and a mix of uses to cater not problematic. Effective integration into Brighton’s wider urban
for the wealthy upper and middle classes and those who structure means that people are encouraged to walk to other
would supply the goods and services they needed. The facilities nearby. The development remains one of the city’s most
clear hierarchy of streets comprises a formal square with popular locations.
prestigious housing, smaller homes along the secondary
The development also demonstrates what can be achieved
streets and mews housing for artisans. Housing was
through good design, planning and management. This
accompanied by a market, police station, fire station,
speculative development was carefully coordinated by the
hotel, a public house, semi-private open space and a
architect Charles Augustin Busby who insisted that all facades
new public park.
follow his design and that buildings were constructed to
The continued success of the area can be attributed to the specified standards. Ongoing management was provided for the
quality and adaptability of the built-form. The spacious houses town in terms of commissioners and an Act of Parliament, which
have enabled adaptation into flats and commercial use as needs is still in force, ensures that facades must be repainted every five
have changed and the old market has housed several uses over years to preserve a unity of appearance.

The design of public open space in Brunswick Town ensures that high density and a lack of private open space are not problematic by providing spaces such
as Brunswick Square for all the community.

2 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

The rising significance of urban design should be the aim of all those involved in the development
process’.4 Planning Policy Statement 3 on housing has put
The past decade has seen almost unprecedented support design at the top of the agenda.5
for good urban design. The Urban Task Force’s call for
exemplars in innovation, sustainability and high-quality Government support for creating places of high quality
urban design has received support at many levels. was reflected in the establishment of CABE (Commission
for Architecture and the Built Environment), which has had
Initially, this was evident in the publications that explained a remarkable impact. Funded by central government but
the principles of urban design, including the original Urban with an independent voice and a dynamic outlook, CABE
Design Compendium1. This was published by English has championed urban design through publications such
Partnerships and the Housing Corporation in 2000 to help as Creating Successful Masterplans.6 Its network of expert
those delivering projects achieve and assess the quality enablers drawn from private practice helps local government
of urban design in developing and restoring places. The to improve quality of urban design being delivered. This
Compendium has achieved far wider application and has been supported by the growing number of design
influence than could have been hoped for, with more than champions, regional centres of excellence and design
25,000 copies distributed. It has become an established panels.
textbook for urban design courses worldwide. The
transferability of the principles has been demonstrated by The level of urban design skills is increasing. The number
translations into Chinese, Serbian and Korean. of students receiving urban design education has risen
steadily over the past 20 years, and short courses, summer
The success of the original Compendium has been schools and conferences have done much to cultivate a
accompanied by strong government support for the broad appreciation of urban design principles. Where once
principles of well-designed, compact, mixed-use, inclusive, there was a lack of urban designers, now the problem is the
sustainable places. Along with publications such as By lack of experienced urban designers.
Design2, invaluable guidance has been provided which sets
out how the principles of urban design can be incorporated An understanding of the importance of urban design
into the planning process. It has resulted in strong and has already spread much further than just urban design
effective planning policies developed to help deliver good students and practitioners. The strong links between quality
design. In particular, Planning Policy Guidance Note 3 of place and quality of life are widely recognised. Social,
(PPG3) 3 on housing introduced targets to promote higher- environmental and therefore long-term economic benefits
density, brownfield development. The success of these are derived from well-designed places. Launched in 2007
policies in promoting the more efficient use of land through the Manual for Streets7, for example, provides guidance
increased densities with good design demonstrated the on how urban design is a vital component in the design
impact planning policy can have. Well-designed schemes of streets.
have led to a rediscovery of how enjoyable towns, cities and
The past decade has seen a greater understanding of how
neighbourhoods can be, and to a resurgence in urban living.
community life is influenced by the way in which places are
Residential schemes in town centres that would not have
designed and managed. Well-designed and well-managed
been viable ten years ago are increasingly successful. The
communal spaces are essential for communities to flourish.
need for a range of services and facilities within walkable
The community ownership of assets can help create a sense
neighbourhoods is now generally understood.
of belonging, and promote social cohesion and interaction.
Good design is now at the heart of planning. Planning Policy Places must be designed to maximise these benefits.
Statement 1 states that ‘high quality and inclusive design

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 3

An award-winning new neighbourhood
Greenwich Millennium Village, London

Greenwich Millennium Village (GMV), an award- thermal insulation standards and non-polluting paint. The
winning new neighbourhood in London, has delivered Combined Heat and Power system reduces CO2 emissions
high sustainability and design standards across the by producing heat through energy generation.
Creating an inclusive, sustainable community has been key
The first of English Partnerships’ Millennium Communities the to this development. This has been promoted through early
project has transformed a former gas works into a thriving, provision of community facilities and a community website,
21st century community grouped around a village green and development of a village trust to enable residents to influence
newly created lake. The project is an ambitious mixed use their surroundings and a mix of housing types and tenures. The
development which will comprise over 1,300 homes, community sense of community is enhanced through a design which places
facilities and commercial space. homes around garden squares and links neighbourhoods with
tree-lined streets. Excellent public transport links help to make
Contemporary architecture and high-quality public realm are
this a highly practical place to live.
designed to suit the local microclimate. Materials have been
selected for green credentials and the latest technology ensures This project demonstrates what can be achieved through a
the construction of an environmentally sustainable village. GMV partnership between public and private-sector partners,
was the first development in the UK to achieve EcoHomes GMV Ltd (a joint venture between Countryside and Taylor
excellent. Homes benefit from large, high-performance windows, Woodrow) which is committed to delivering quality.

High sustainability and design standards have been achieved at Greenwich Millennium Village, the first of English Partnerships’ Millennium Communities.

4 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

The pressing need to reduce our impact on the environment despite increasing support and skills expectations are
has required us fundamentally to question the way in not being met. ‘Poor’, ‘average’ and ‘good’ are simply not
which we live. It is clear that we cannot continue to build acceptable. To deliver places we can be proud of, places
developments without regard to the consumption of that will last, we need all developments to be ‘very good’.
resources. Urban design has to be accountable, not just to
This Compendium is intended to explain what the challenges
immediate clients and occupiers, but to future generations.
are, and assembles advice and best practice to help those
Those planning future developments have had to consider
who are shaping places to achieve the quality they aspire
how places can be sustainable and how urban design can
to. Nobody wants to build poor schemes. This Compendium
achieve this. Policy development and legislation on building
considers how challenges can be met and barriers can be
regulations provide strong support for this.
overcome for each of the key issues facing anyone planning
The Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution’s report a new development. It dispels the myths that so often block
on The Urban Environment8 called on the Government to the creation of high-quality places. This Compendium aims
look at the quality of the urban environment and the quality to narrow the gap between aspirations and achievement
of life in an integrated way. Its report rightly noted that we by bringing together valuable experiences from successful
are far from understanding the nature and extent of all projects. It shares best practice to provide exemplars for
the connections. But urban design, the art of shaping the innovation in sustainable and high-quality urban design.
interaction between people, places, urban form and nature,
and influencing the processes which lead to successful Understanding what works
villages, towns and cities, can play a critical role in – what are we aiming for? 001 002 003 004

understanding these relationships and integrating solutions.

To understand what quality can be, it is helpful to look back
Urban design can coordinate policy and practice, and raise
at places that have worked and continue to be successful.
The planned developments of the Georgian era can teach
We are learning how to create places that are safe and us much. Such developments as Brunswick Town in Hove,
pleasant to walk around, that have facilities to walk to, Grainger Town in Newcastle or Edinburgh New Town provide
that are well integrated into wider transport networks, and a clear urban structure with a hierarchy of streets, providing
that have a range of housing types and tenures which are a range of housing types in both town houses and mews.
inclusive and well managed. Such places will become The layout of the buildings, spacious internal dimensions
valuable both for the present generation and as a legacy of and free floor plates have enabled these buildings to be
successful neighbourhoods and cities for centuries to come. adapted over the centuries into anything from smaller
residential units, shops, offices and doctors surgeries
The challenge to educational and recreational facilities as needs have
Despite the almost unprecedented support for designing
places, evidence shows that we are not doing enough. Such places accommodate a mix of uses and users in
Development of high quality is not the norm. In early 2007, thriving places. They demonstrate how high densities
the national housing audit 9 found only five per cent of can work well where there is good urban design and the
developments, in some regions, could be classed as ‘very materials are of high quality. Plenty of public open space
good’ quality urban design. Only 13 per cent were ‘good’. and shared communal space makes these places feel
More worryingly, 29 per cent were so poor that they should spacious. A combination of wide streets and mews courts
not have been given planning permission. It is clear that ensures that parking is accommodated yet does not

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 5

dominate the street scene. Large windows provide good which guides development with confidence and clarity whilst
natural light and ventilation, and allow good surveillance. bringing long-term value to both the landowners and those
who will live and work there. Hammarby Sjöstad illustrates
While the environmental performance of such places
what can be achieved when sustainable place-making is
may not meet current requirements, they do deliver well-
supported at all levels and delivered through an integrated
connected and legible places that people enjoy walking
around. By creating places which last, they reduce the
need for demolition and replacement. By combining these
What does this Compendium do?
well-established principles of urban design with a growing
understanding of new technologies we can deliver even Most people want to play a part in making better places but
better places for future generations. they need to be shown that it is achievable and how they
can play an active role. This Compendium reduces the risk
Some recently designed schemes show evidence of holistic
by providing guidance and examples of how problems can
thinking. Greenwich Millennium Village, Hammarby Sjöstad
be overcome. Where the original Compendium provided
and Newhall are all beacons of what we can achieve with
guidance on the principles of urban design and how to
commitment to design quality. They are inspiring places
apply them, this Compendium provides guidance on the
that deliver in terms of environmental, social and economic
processes which lead to successful villages, towns and
viability, and are places that people enjoy. They combine
cities. As illustrated in the diagram ‘Principles, Scale and
the best of the past in terms of urban form and character
with new opportunities made available due to advances Process’ this Compendium builds on the guidance set out
in technology and a greater understanding of sustainable in Compendium 1, it does not replace it. The first sets out the
place-making. principles, which apply at all scale of place, whilst the second
describes the processes needed to achieve them. It explains
At Greenwich Millennium Village, Ralph Erskine’s masterplan how the decisions made during delivery can help to create
has built on lessons learnt from London squares, combined quality places.
with contemporary architecture and an environmental
consciousness that create a neighbourhood worthy of A summary of the information in both documents is available
heralding a new millennium. At Newhall, Roger Evans has on the Urban Design Compendium website,
evolved a masterplan and accompanying design code www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

6 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Principles of urban design from

the Urban Design Compendium

Urban design principles apply

to all scales of place

Urban Design Compendium 2
provides a third dimension – the
delivery process. Each stage of
the process forms a chapter in
this book.

Principles, Scale and Process: How the Urban Design Compendium 2 builds on the principles of the original Compendium.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 7

Looking at the process This includes lessons learnt from groundbreaking initiatives
This Compendium provides practical guidance on the steps such as English Partnerships’ Millennium Communities
that can be taken in the development process to improve the Programme and Design for Manufacture competition along
quality of place. It looks in turn at policy, design, economics, with the use of tools such as Enquiry by Design and design
technical approvals and long-term management. For each of codes. These experiences are accompanied by other
these steps, the Compendium identifies potential obstacles projects from both the public and private sector where
to good design and provides advice on how perceived innovation and determination have helped to overcome
barriers can be overcome. some of the barriers to delivering quality places.

The Five Steps to Delivery diagram sets out each section The case studies have been chosen to highlight projects that
within Urban Design Compendium 2. have been successful in overcoming specific problems.
Each case study has been numbered so it is clear how
This Compendium’s structure broadly corresponds to
they relate to specific issues in the advice text. A project
the timeline of a project. But urban design is not a simple
that has been successful in several areas may feature more
linear process, so a wide range of issues need to be
than once. It should not be assumed that simply copying all
considered at the design stage. The issues in each section
aspects of the case studies will lead to good urban design.
cover all scales, from national, regional and local down to
neighbourhood, block, street and building design. Urban design principles apply to all scale and types of
development, putting people first. Many of the lessons from
This Compendium offers practical guidance on how to
town centre sites, in terms of ensuring that the density is
integrate social, environmental and economic requirements.
appropriate to sustain the level of services and businesses,
It explains how places which embody timeless principles of
will apply equally to villages and local neighbourhood
urban design can be sustainable, socially, environmentally
centres. But some may not, so this Compendium uses case
and economically.
studies from a range of different places. The case studies
include villages, towns, neighbourhoods and city centre
Sharing best practice locations.
An increasing number of exciting schemes are showing what
can work and why we can be confident of aiming higher. The This document is only able to capture a snapshot of each
case studies draw on the hard won practical experiences of case study. Further details, images and project information
English Partnerships, the Housing Corporation and the team can be found on the Urban Design Compendium website
producing this Compendium. (www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk). Weblinks for each
case study are listed at the back of this Compendium.

8 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

5.1 Managing
physical assets
5.2 Establishing
5.3 Ensuring that
FROM VISION communities are
TO REALITY self-sustaining
4.1 Design quality and
planning control
4.2 Delivering the
transport element
4.3 Delivering street and
service infrastructure ENSURE A LEGACY
DELIVERING 4.4 Constructing
QUALITY AND quality places
3.1 Why good design?
3.2 Adding value
through design
3.3 Defining the right
mechanism and team
INTEGRATED 3.4 Parceling land
and phasing AND TECHNICAL
3.5 Procurring quality APPROVALS
2.1 An integrated
approach partners
2.2 Implications for
urban form
2.3 Achieving mixed-use
SOWING THE SEED 2.5 Streets as places
1.1 Urban design policy
1.2 Urban design
1.3 Sustainable design
1.4 Character and identity
1.5 Engaging the


Five Steps to Delivery: Each chapter contains detailed guidance on the key issues which will support the delivery of quality places

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 9

Who is this Compendium aimed at and specific barriers have been overcome in delivering good
how should they use it? urban design. It is hoped that these examples will inspire
others to aim higher.
There are many players in the development process. They
include planners, developers, builders, urban designers, It should not be assumed that all case studies do everything
architects, registered social landlords, community groups, well – note the reasons why each case study is being offered
highways engineers and policy makers. Each of them as a best-practice example. Readers therefore need to use
will make decisions that affect the quality of places. This this information in the context within which they are working
Compendium aims to provide guidance to all of them, and develop their own solutions to suit each situation. This
promoting an understanding of how the best projects Compendium encourages a collaborative and integrated
deliver quality. approach to development; it is critical that users look
beyond their specific role and understand how actions and
This Compendium is structured to follow the delivery decisions will affect others in the delivery process.
process so that those involved in specific issues can find
the guidance they need. By reading the Compendium as The case studies included here are by no means exhaustive.
a whole, however, we hope that each player will be able There are other, existing and emerging examples of
to understand the bigger picture. It should help those individuals, projects and organisations, who through
developing design policy and design control to recognise determination and commitment to quality, have also found
where in the process they best exert influence and to innovative ways to overcome barriers to delivery. The
decide where to focus resources. accompanying website (www.urbandesigncompendium.
co.uk) is planned as a dynamic two-way resource for
The guidance and case studies in this Compendium learning from, and sharing, national and international best
provide a starting point for readers to identify potential practice. We welcome your views and feedback, via the
issues that may need to be addressed in the projects they website, on ways to deliver quality places.
are developing. The case studies provide examples of how

10 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

A new neighbourhood for Harlow
Newhall, Harlow

Newhall is a new neighbourhood in Harlow with a The masterplan is subdivided into development parcels ranging
planned residential population of 6,000 with mixed- from around 100 homes down to individual building plots. Different
uses including employment, shops, services, schools, architects are employed on each development parcel. Co-
community and leisure facilities. Urban design ordination is achieved through the use of design codes and an
considerations have been key to the project and ongoing dialogue between architects and masterplanners. Each
many aspects of the original masterplan and delivery phase of development has received national design awards.
mechanisms are now endorsed by government policy.
A residents’ trust was established at the outset which has a role
At the heart of the project is a belief that good design
in the management of the neighbourhood including ownership
is vital to achieving good values and that a long-term
of landscape and street trees that could not be adopted. Energy
commitment is essential from the promoters of the
standards in substantially excess of legal requirements have been
project, the design team and the planning authorities.
achieved through the design code and future phases are set
Covering 110 ha, the masterplan sets aside some 40% of to further minimise resource use. A large number of homes are
land for habitat creation and leisure uses. This requires that designed for live-work use or home-working which, combined with
development areas be built at higher than average densities. small-scale employment developments, will ensure that there is a
Careful design of the public realm and striving to achieve resident community present throughout the working day. Newhall
exemplar buildings has been essential to delivering the has succeeded in creating an exceptional place with a distinctive
necessary quality of environment. character and identity.

Urban design considerations at Newhall have been pivotal to the project and have led to the creation of a place with distinct identity
and character such as The Chase.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 11

Inspiring sustainable development
Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm, Sweden

Hammarby Sjöstad means ‘city surrounding Hammarby Sustainability is maximised across the development through the
Lake’. This 200 ha brownfield development was conceived use of green roofs, solar panels, and eco-friendly construction
to expand the inner city with a focus on the water products. It has a fully integrated underground waste collection
while converting an old industrial and harbour area system, its own ecosystem, known as the Hammarby Model.
into a modern, sustainable neighbourhood. Originally The ‘Glashusett’, Hammarby Sjöstad’s environmental information
planned as part of Stockholm’s sustainable bid for the centre disseminates knowledge to residents and visitors via
2004 Olympics, the development has retained a strong study trips, exhibitions and demonstrations of new environmental
emphasis on ecology and environmental sustainability. technologies.

The project delivered homes for almost 10,000 people in a Provision of infrastructure has been key in linking this
neighbourhood and will deliver 9,000 homes and 10,000 jobs by development into Stockholm’s existing networks. An integrated
2015. The scheme has already attracted international acclaim movement network of trams, cycle lanes, ferry links and
for the quality of place created and convinced many, that carbon pedestrian routes between neighbourhoods, was delivered in
neutral development does not require lifestyle changes. Many advance of development. Alongside these the provision of a car
places are now learning from this model. pool and priority car pool parking has successfully reduced car
dependency across the area.
The development successfully reflects inner city Stockholm
through a contemporary adoption of the inner city street Flexibility and ability to adapt over time has been built in.
dimensions, block lengths, building heights, density and mix Almost all the ground floor units along the boulevard have been
of uses to deliver a quality neighbourhood. Use of glass as designed flexibly to accommodate community, leisure and
a core material maximises sunlight and views of the water commercial uses. These complement other facilities including
and green spaces. The scheme works successfully with the schools, health centres, shops, library, a theatre, concert hall and
historic landscape with aquatic areas, which act as storm water athletics centre.
drainage, encouraging biodiversity, the creation of new habitats,
informal amenity areas and formal areas of public open space.

Hammarby Sjöstad successfully integrates sustainable principles, contemporary architecture and the historic landscape to create a high-quality
environment focused on the water.

12 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

What do we need to do? Working collaboratively

Creating successful places requires input from many
This Compendium provides specific guidance on a range players. This can include skills, resources, knowledge and
of issues. It is clear that there are several ingredients that enthusiasm. For all players to contribute fully, there needs to
are keys to creating high-quality places. These should be be understanding from the outset of a project’s objectives,
considered by all players at each stage in the process. how and when these will be delivered, and what resources
are available. Each player needs to be clear about what they
Commitment and leadership can bring to the team, and to be confident that their input will
Creating successful places requires commitment and be valued.
leadership to overcome complex problems. Issues will be
easier to resolve where there is clear commitment to quality Long-term involvement
and strong leadership. It is vital that someone keeps an eye Creating places requires long-term involvement to ensure
on the vision to steer and inspire the team. that the original vision is not diluted. The urban designer and
masterplanner should not disappear after outline consent
Integrated approach is granted. Long-term involvement in a project will enable
A sustainable urban development will be based on funders to generate maximum value from high-quality
interlocking principles. These will relate to community, schemes.
resources, built form, landscape, ecology and materials.
Urban design can help to deliver schemes that achieve all Legacy and management
of these in a way that does more than tick boxes. It can help Designing and delivering quality is only the start. Places that
create places where people want to be. people will cherish for generations need looking after. This
will ensure that they function in the long term and provide a
good quality of life for current and future occupiers. Giving
occupiers control over their environment can be an effective
way of doing this. How areas will be governed and managed
must influence design decisions.

REFERENCES 5. Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing. 2006. CLG

1. Urban Design Compendium. 2000. English Partnerships and 6. Creating Successful Masterplans: A guide for clients. 2004. CABE
the Housing Corporation 7. Manual for Streets. 2007. CLG and Department for Transport
2. By Design: Urban Design in the Planning System: Towards Better 8. The Urban Environment. 2007. Royal Commission on
Practice. 2000. DETR and CABE Environmental Pollution
3. Planning Policy Guidance Note 3: Housing. 2000. DETR 9. Housing Audit: Assessing the design quality of new housing in the
4. Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development. East Midlands, West Midlands and the South West. 2007. CABE
2005. ODPM

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 13
Urban design is now embedded in understanding what is special about
UK national planning policy. The the town or region which needs to be
challenge is to interpret and apply cherished.
this policy at the local level. Design
Good urban design requires political
policy is an essential tool for making
will, leadership, appropriate policies
sustainable places.
and a sustained determination
Some outstanding projects are to raise standards. It also requires
brought about through the efforts a long-term view, typically over a
of a handful of people in the public, generation.
private or voluntary sectors. But
Effective policies need to provide
neighbourhoods, towns and cities
support for urban design at every
that achieve long-term improvements
level, from the strategic to the local.
do so because they have political
leadership, appropriate policies and Those determining planning
a sustained determination to raise applications must be given the
standards. Their authorities look to confidence and skills to evaluate
the long-term view. They demonstrate proposals and demand quality.
a commitment to urban design,




1.1.1 Good planning is good urban design

1.1.2 Writing design policies
1.1.3 Achieving integration
1.1.4 Beyond policy

Well-conceived urban design policy is essential if PPS1 notes that: ‘Good design ensures attractive, usable,
the planning process is to raise design standards. durable and adaptable places and is a key element in
Effective local authority action depends on strategic achieving sustainable development. Good design is
planning policy, local policy and urban design guidance, indivisible from good planning.’
prepared and implemented by a strongly motivated
and coordinated team of officers and members with Policy and scale
the necessary resources and support. Long-term Design policies can relate to a range of scales. Table 1.1
commitment to maintaining high standards depends sets out the types of urban design issues that are likely to
on political support for urban design policy. be most important at each level of planning policy. Together
these documents provide the means of implementing policy
Urban design policy is concerned with more than just
at every scale and in every sort of circumstance.
the architectural quality of development. It helps to
shape the place as a whole, and all its economic, social
and environmental impacts. To bring about fundamental
1.1.2 Writing design policies
change, urban design policy needs to define a vision
Principles and structure
which will be realised over a time span – sometimes as
Urban design policy should be based on clear analysis of
long as a generation – and achieved through a series of
environmental, social and economic issues, and on the local
staged objectives focusing on short-term goals.
authority’s considered view as to what qualities development
Coordination and collaborative working between local should achieve.
government departments (planning, transportation,
Design policies should be clear, specific, measurable
property, etc) is a pre-requisite for successful urban
or testable, and technically feasible. Each policy should
design, which is intrinsically inter-disciplinary.
provide: first, a design objective and second, an explanation
of how a solution might fulfil that objective.
1.1.1 Good planning is good urban design
An example of a clear specific policy is the following:
Incorporate design thinking into strategic policy
Planning, urban design and sustainable development are ‘Development should incorporate the retention or
responses to the same challenge: how to make successful provision of important routes and linkages which
places in a responsible way, making the most of what the contribute to the permeability of an area. Development
market can deliver. which results in the unacceptable loss of existing links
It is now mandatory, as stated in Planning Policy Statement will not be permitted.
PPS11 and PPS32, for the planning process to incorporate Design objective: permeability
urban design principles (relating to place-making and
the physical form of development) at every level, from the Explanation of criteria for solution: incorporate or
strategic to the local. retain and avoid loss of important routes and linkages.’ 3

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 17

Policy document Status Purpose Level of detail

Planning Policy Statutory guidance Establishes the link between spatial

Statements (PPS) planning and urban design

Regional spatial Statutory document Regional spatial coordination of Strategic directions for growth or
strategy produced by the development and regeneration. regeneration; relation to strategic
regional assembly A spatial framework to inform the transport; amount of housing and
Sub-regional (subject to preparation of local development employment, location and physical
strategy sustainability audit) documents, local transport plans conceptions of development (for
and regional and sub-regional example, city-region, new town or town
strategies, and programmes extension), social and economic role
that have a bearing on land-use of development

Development plan Statutory documents Local spatial coordination of

documents produced by the local development and regeneration:
authority (subject to ‘a long-term spatial vision
sustainability audit) working towards delivery of the
community strategy, setting out its
spatial aspects that relate to the
development and use of land’

Core strategy Statutory documents Design priorities, fundamental Inclusion of design policies
produced by the local principles and non-development Coordination with local transport plans
authority (subject to control design policies and strategies for the economy, housing,
sustainability audit) education, health, social inclusion,
waste, biodiversity, recycling and
environmental protection
Specific sites Statutory documents Policies setting out broad design Identification of specific areas or sites
(proposals map) produced by the local principles for allocated sites for development and regeneration,
authority (subject to urban design considerations and
sustainability audit) implications for the selection of specific
sites (most importantly movement)

Area action plan Can combine different Sets out physical visions, policies May take the form of an area
(extended area, multiple kinds of framework and objectives for specific development framework, urban design
sites or large single produced by or for the areas and sites within the local framework, generic design code or
area of land) local authority (subject development framework masterplan, with or without design
to sustainability audit) codes

SPD Written policy or drawn Expands policies set out in a May take the form of an area
(covering anything from framework on which is development plan document or development framework, urban
local authority area to conferred legal status provides additional detail design framework, development brief,
individual sites) by adoption (may be masterplan, design code or
subject to sustainability design guide

Table 1.1 Urban design content of planning policy documents

18 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Integrating urban design in local planning policy
Sheffield City Council

The City of Sheffield is currently undergoing a period of planning applications and provides those preparing applications
major development and regeneration. Recognising the with design guidance.
opportunities that this offers in terms of achieving high-
quality urban design, the City Council has put in place Sheffield City Council also set up an Urban Design Review Panel
measures to embed design in the local planning process. in line with national guidance from CABE. The purpose of the
Panel is to review major pre-application development schemes
In 2004 Sheffield City Council launched the Sheffield City Centre
and ensure early engagement with architects and developers.
Urban Design Compendium which identifies urban design
A wide range of expert advisors drawn from the fields of urban
principles for the city, as well as detailed area-specific guidance
design, architecture, sustainable planning and development
for the different quarters. It informs policies in the Sheffield
make up the Panel, representing both the public and private
Development Framework as well as the new City Centre Design
sectors. The Panel is chaired independently from the Council and
Guide, a supplementary planning document. The Compendium
its advice is used as a material consideration in the determination
is also taken into account as a consideration when determining
of planning applications.

Sheffield City Council’s commitment to quality has led to an integrated approach to design that is supporting the delivery of high-quality projects such as
Sheaf Square, which have helped rejuvenate the city centre.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 19

Categories and content Partnerships and teams

The key aspects of urban design as set out in the original Probably the most effective means of integrating the
Compendium have proved to be a useful framework to various aspects of urban design into planning policy is
structure policies and guides. The likely categories and to establish inter- and multi-disciplinary spatial planning
content of a typical set of design policies could therefore teams or partnerships to produce policy documents. This
reflect: avoids a narrow, single-issue approach, with different
authorities, agencies and departments pursuing separate
• Appreciating the context (local character and
and uncoordinated programmes and initiatives. Policy can
distinctiveness, and heritage)
be more consistent, more transparent and more accessible
• Creating the urban structure (neighbourhood to community involvement.
structure, land use, landscape, biodiversity, green
infrastructure and surface water drainage) With such a coordinated, inter-disciplinary approach, design
issues will become integral to the decision-making process.
• Making the connections (connection, movement
and transport) This approach will be most effective where there is high-level
• Detailing the place (public realm and open space, support and commitment to design quality. Clear leadership
access and adaptability) and coordination will be required to ensure that teams work
• Implementation and delivery (management and
Regional coordination
As regional and spatial strategies will be increasingly Local authorities should work with neighbouring authorities
required to respond to climate change, policy also needs to ensure that they have common aspirations. Where
to address issues of energy, resources and utilities. coordination is not possible, developers can be encouraged
to work in areas with high standards if the process for
Ensuring policies are effective 005 obtaining planning approvals is effective and transparent.
CABE has identified five ways of making design policies
effective3. These relate to all types of policy-making by a Consideration should also be given to how local policies can
local authority in the new structure of spatial planning: support and deliver policies and initiatives at regional and
sub-regional levels.
• Embed design concerns, in all aspects of the local
development framework’s policy hierarchy and 1.1.4 Beyond policy
beyond to the community strategy.
To be effective, policies need adequate resources, skills
• Treat design as a cross-cutting issue that infuses
and support. There are a number of ways, in addition to
all other policy areas.
planning policy, in which city, regional and local authorities
• Base policies on a deep understanding of local can improve the chances of improving standards of urban
context and the design process. design at a more strategic level.
• Use design policy at different geographical scales,
from individual sites to large areas, to help achieve Training and education
the local development framework’s objectives. A basic understanding of the principles of urban design
• Ensure that design policy relates to social issues and is essential for everyone involved in policy making and
the effective use of resources, as well as visual and development control. This will complement the detailed
functional matters. urban design expertise that is also required, providing a
wide range of people with the confidence to engage in
1.1.3 Achieving integration 006 discussions relating to urban design issues.
Urban design is concerned with how places work, and Training in the principles of urban design is an effective use
it is essential that design policies are developed with of resources. It should be provided for all new members.
consideration of the full spectrum of issues involved in The training should cover the basics of urban design and
shaping and managing a place. We need to consider how ensure all members understand the scope of their role and
urban design can help support policies on environmental how they can influence good urban design. SEEDA have
sustainability, crime and safety, health and education. produced a guide5 which provides further details on how
this can be achieved.

20 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Raising design awareness
Essex Design Initiative

The Essex Design Initiative (EDI) is a high profile • A professional development programme including best
campaign launched by Essex County Council. The EDI practice study tours
provides design guidance on how to plan, build and
• Design review services
maintain sustainable urban developments. It helps policy-
makers and practitioners successfully accommodate • Online resources at www.the-edi.co.uk
housing growth and improve the public realm in an
• The Essex Design Champions Network
environmentally responsible way.
The success of the EDI can be attributed to the Council’s
Integrating expertise from urban design, landscape design,
longstanding expertise in urban design, as exemplified by the
conservation and public art, the EDI offers:
internationally renowned Essex Design Guide. The UPS is a
• The Essex Design Guide: Urban Place Supplement (UPS), demanding document that builds on this achievement for urban
a supplementary planning document set to influence the areas. As Councillor Jeremy Lucas, Essex Design Champion,
quality of higher-density developments states ‘Never has a concern for the sustainability of our actions
been better understood. The UPS enables local authorities and
• Cross-disciplinary events to promote collaborative working
the development industry to work together.’

Essex Design Initiative (EDI) has helped support policy-makers and improve the design and delivery of new developments within the area.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 21

Running a regional design panel
South East Regional Design Panel

Since its inception in 2002, the South East Regional SERDP complements the CABE Design Review.
Design Panel (SERDP) has delivered tangible benefits
The review process includes a site visit and meeting to consider
in terms of time saved during the planning process and
the application and a subsequent write-up. SERDP works at
improved design quality, sucessfully overcoming initial
three stages of the development process:
reluctance of developers to use the Panel.
• Early: Encourages consultation with the planning authority
Local authorities with their own advisory panels are also using
prior to the formal planning process and provides advice on
SERDP due to increased development pressures. A regional
initial briefs.
panel brings additional benefit. SERDP has helped overcome
local conflicts of interest by giving independent views based • Mid-term: Comments on design work at early stages; from
on its understanding of the region’s performance. assessments of initial concepts through to a ‘health check’
prior to planning submission.
Funded by the South East England Development Agency,
SERDP champions design excellence and sustainability in the • Late: Assesses design quality of planning applications.
region. Made up of 33 design and development professionals, Occasionally it also gives evidence at Public Inquiries.
it provides a free design review service to public and private
‘It’s not about being argumentative, but about making
organisations. Projects are submitted to the panel on a
the system work better.’ Barry Shaw, Chief Executive of Kent
voluntary basis. It is managed by Kent Architecture Centre,
Architecture Centre, on South East Regional Development
an independent company that also provides, amongst other
Panel’s approach towards developers.
things, specialist advice, and training to local authorities.

In addition to providing design advice the South East Regional Design Panel raises design awareness through initiatives such as ‘Shaping Places’, an
educational programme aimed at helping 14-year old pupils to understand the process of housing development.

22 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Setting the standard
Building for Life

Made up of 20 criteria the Building for Life standard category has five questions. Projects scoring over 14 points
provides a framework for assessing the quality of new receive the silver standard and those scoring over 16 receive
housing and neighbourhoods and ensuring they are the gold standard.
sustainable, attractive and fit for purpose. This national
The clear guidance and breadth of issues covered has led to the
standard is led by CABE and the Home Builders
criteria being used as a benchmark of design quality on three
Federation in association with English Partnerships,
levels; as an award, as an assessment tool (as used in CABE’s
the Housing Corporation, Design for Homes and the
Housing Audits) and as a predictive tool to assess the quality of
Civic Trust.
development proposals (as used by English Partnerships).
The standard was originally launched as an award to
English Partnerships introduced Building for Life as a quality
promote design excellence and best practice in the house
standard in September 2005. All design proposals must
building industry. The award is given to new housing projects
demonstrate that their designs will meet the silver standard.
that demonstrate commitment to high design standards,
CABE recommend that this approach be adopted by every
good place making and sustainable development.
local authority as a mechanism to raise the quality of proposals
Schemes are assessed against four key categories: that are brought to planning committees and to enforce these
character; roads, parking and pedestrianisation; design standards once planning permission has been secured.
and construction; and environment and community. Each

Building for Life winners (clockwise from top left) Angell Town, Chapel, Butts Green and Charter Quays demonstrate how schemes that address all four key
assessment categories can deliver successful places which are sustainable, attractive and fit for purpose.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 23

Training should also be made available to a wide range of Design review panels 007
officers across a council. This will help those working in Design review panels can provide an additional check and
other departments to understand how they can support positive incentive for improving the quality of urban design.
good design. They should be staffed by acknowledged, independent
experts from a range of backgrounds. Panels can operate
Training may be specially arranged in-house, through
at a local, regional or national level. They should be run in
attendance at summer schools or urban design
a consistent manner, handling all projects equally fairly.
conferences, or through discussion groups. When outside
Examples include CABE’s Design Review Panel and panels
design review panels are brought in, members can become
run by regional architecture centres.
involved to learn from the process. Organising study visits to
schemes that demonstrate best practice, such as Building Local authorities should advise potential planning applicants
for Life award winners, can also inspire people and help early on if it is intended to use an external design review
them understand urban design issues. Such visits can panel. They should make it clear the purpose of the review
provide invaluable points of reference when reviewing and how the recommendations will be used in the planning
policy and planning applications. process. A design review should be undertaken in the
knowledge that design changes may be requested. Time will
Design champions be required to undertake this prior to submitting a planning
A design champion can provide important support for a application. A good scheme, underpinned by a clear
particular project or across the board. Design champions rationale for the design decisions made, will benefit from a
are increasingly being appointed by both public sector and positive review when submitted for planning approval.
commercial organisations, to demonstrate their commitment
to raising design quality. Initiatives and awards 008
In many places higher standards of urban design have been
It is essential to find a person with both the skills and
successfully promoted through awards and other design
perseverance required. The champion could be a political
initiatives. Putting effort and resources into these sends
member or officer, someone co-opted from the local area,
a clear signal to the development industry and the wider
or an expert who can bring an outside perspective. The
public that design matters. The Essex Design Initiative, for
personal energy and commitment of such individuals can
example, runs workshops, sponsors courses and issues
be a great help in raising awareness of urban design issues,
publications. National award schemes such as the Housing
and gathering and sustaining support for longer-term urban
Design Awards and Building for Life Standards have brought
design projects. Executive support for the creation of the
media attention to design issues. Increasing numbers of
role is vital if the champion is to have an appropriate remit.
local authorities also run design awards.
Design champions can also be supported at a regional level
through networking events that share best practice. Awards should set benchmarks in quality which can help
raise standards throughout the area. Award-winning
schemes should be celebrated, not just as exceptions,
but as evidence of what is possible in that place and
used as benchmarks.


1. Well-conceived urban design policy is essential if 3. Urban design policies will be more effective if
the planning process is to raise design standards. they are backed by efforts to promote a wider
2. Urban design is intrinsically inter-disciplinary. understanding of urban design principles and
It requires coordination and collaborative working the benefits of urban design.
between local government departments.

1. Planning Policy Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development. 2005. ODPM
2. Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing. 2006. CLG
3. Bristol City Council Bristol Local Plan Proposed Alterations 2003.
Policy B3. page 116. B5. page 118
4. Making Design Policy Work: How to deliver good design through your local
development framework. 2005. CABE
5. Making Places: Working together for effective delivery. 2007. SEEDA

24 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk


1.2.1 The right tool for the job

1.2.2 Developing a framework
1.2.3 What to include

An urban design framework is the bridge between policy A masterplan is usually commissioned by the person or
and implementation. organisation controlling the land intended for development.
Further guidance on preparing and using masterplans can
A framework describes and illustrates how planning and
be found in CABE’s ’Creating successful masterplans: a
design policies, and principles, should be implemented
guide for clients’.1
in an area where there is a need to control, guide and
promote change. They can help deliver change across Design codes
a wide area by coordinating more detailed development A design code is a set of illustrated design rules and
briefs and masterplans for separate sites. requirements for the physical development of a site or
area. The graphic and written components of the code are
Frameworks can give the confidence to residents and
detailed and precise. They build on a design vision such as
investors that public and other private funds are being
a masterplan. It is not normally possible to produce a design
harnessed to a common goal.
code without a masterplan first being in place. However, in
some circumstances a design code can express general
1.2.1 The right tool for the job design guidance (on matters such as building heights)
across a wider area and be attached to an urban design
Frameworks 009 010
framework. Further guidance on design codes is provided
There are different types of framework plan. Their content
in section 3.4 and in the CLG practice guide.2
will depend on the specific circumstances of each site.
Frameworks are strategic plans which are produced by Site briefs
(or adopted by) local authorities. They can transcend land A site brief sets out the specific requirements for each site
ownership and may embrace components with different within a framework, masterplan or code. The brief can
timescales. highlight specific opportunities and constraints for the
identified area.
Frameworks can cover a range of scales from a whole
town to a particular site. It is important to explain in each
1.2.2 Developing a framework
case what the particular document is intended to achieve,
and how much assessment and analysis has gone in to
Responsibilities and skills
its preparation.
It is usually the responsibility of the local authority to
Frameworks sit above masterplans, design codes and produce an urban design framework. However, consultants
site briefs. A framework sets out key principles, allowing for the landowner or developer (including government
flexibility for subsequent masterplans to develop ideas in agencies) may work with the local authority to produce the
three-dimensional form and with greater precision. document jointly.
The skills required will usually include planning, urban
design, highway engineering, economic development,
A masterplan is a detailed, three-dimensional plan
property, ecology and resources. Strong and inclusive
which sets out the intended layout of an area. It presents
leadership are the key to success. It is important to identify
proposals for buildings, spaces, movement and land use
and collaborate with stakeholders at the right time, ideally
in three-dimensional, and matches all of these to an
with adequate time and resources. Community involvement
implementation strategy.
is required in the preparation of the framework, preferably
through collaborative design workshops (see section 1.5).

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 25

Type of framework Status Purpose Level of detail

Area development Local authority initiative, Brings together an agreed set of Indicative strategy identifying
framework often in association with prioritised projects for an area, a range of projects that are to
Scale may be town-wide, redevelopment agency often broken down into themes and be developed in more detail
growth area or a regeneration or housing market indicating responsibilities and in terms of design, technical
strategy. Will cover multiple renewal partners potential sources of funding or viability, economic viability
land ownerships and timescales
partners. May constitute or form and community involvement
part of an area action plan or
supplementary planning document

Urban design framework Area action plan or Sets out a vision and proposals Indicative strategy for
Neighbourhood scale or supplementary planning for an urban extension or new a specified area or site,
may just cover a number of document; or neighbourhood centre, district or involving urban design
inter-related sites a proposal by an neighbourhood regeneration; or concepts and informed
agency, landowner the promotion of a centre or area by preliminary technical
or developer, in some and its opportunity sites. Requires appraisals and
cases adopted by the development briefs or masterplans viability testing
local planning authority to be subsequently prepared

Development brief Likely to be adopted Sets out a vision and specific Specific selected
For a large or small site as a supplementary requirements for development of a requirements for development
which is typically in a single planning document site. On large sites a development proposals on the identified
ownership or control brief may be similar to an urban site with reference to relevant
N.B. This is not the same design framework. Should set out development plan policies
as a site brief
In some cases a
proposal by an agency, exactly what is required in order to be
landowner or developer granted a planning consent
which is then adopted
by the local planning

Table 1.2 Types of framework

26 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Start collaboration with the brief 1.2.3 What to include

Cooperation and coordination between a local authority,
its departments and any relevant outside agencies are Appreciating the context
essential if the urban design framework is to be implemented • Archaeology and heritage
successfully. The first steps are to write the brief for the job A study of past uses of the land may reveal patterns
of preparing the framework, to identify the skills necessary which can inform frameworks and masterplans today.
for the core client and working teams, and to then decide the Places which grew incrementally often reveal local
roles of the participants. conditions that can influence development today.
A brief for the work of preparing an urban design framework • Public realm and the open space network
should: Review what is required of the network of streets,
squares, parkland and incidental open spaces which
• State the context, issues and objectives, and vision form the public realm.
• Define the area • National, regional and local policy
• Explain how the framework will fit into the planning Identify current and up and coming policies which
system, and what status it will have may impact on likely development.
• Explain how the framework will relate to other
plans and initiatives, and in particular its role in Creating the structure
coordinating them • Neighbourhood structure and centres
Subdivide large urban extensions into
• Identify the main stakeholders neighbourhoods based on walking distance and
• Set out the contents of the framework centres for convenience shopping and services.
• Set out the process to be followed in preparing the • Land use and mix
framework Identify the optimum locations for the different
• List the outputs that the framework is to achieve land uses required. This may include residential,
employment, schools, health and community
Stages in the preparation process facilities, shopping and services, leisure, sports and
These are likely to include: recreation, and other open spaces. Be prepared to
designate mixed-use areas where this can generate
• Refine the brief
vitality. Consider residential densities and capacity,
• Gather information and the potential mix of tenures.
• Undertake appraisals • Character areas
• Involve local communities Subdivide sites into areas of different character,
• Formulate options where appropriate. If the characteristics are stated
clearly, they can influence subsequent design
• Carry out technical and financial testing
decisions. Characteristics may relate to such matters
• Select the preferred option as materials, built form, density, building typology or
• Refine the preferred option landscape character.
• Prepare final outputs • Energy, resources and waste
Land use will have a fundamental effect on energy
An urban design framework will typically consider some and resource consumption and waste management.
or all of the elements set out in the following sections.
• Density and mix
Estimate the likely development densities, so that
technical and financial consideration can be given
to the opportunities and constraints identified by
the brief.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 27

• Retained landscape
Trees, hedgerows, species-rich grassland, water
features and all actively used habitats should be
considered for retention.
• New landscape
New planting should be seen potentially as part
of the public realm. It may also connect isolated
elements of the retained landscape and create
possible habitat corridors.
• Surface drainage strategy
Urbanisation increases the rate of water run-off,
which can be potentially damaging to water courses
and contribute to flooding. Depending on the size of
the site, consider design initiatives which:
• Increase the permeability of ground materials
• Create a series of water courses which matches
the street hierarchy, using features such as
swales, streams and rills
• Create balancing lakes to attenuate the flow of
rain water from the site, and create new habitats
and amenities
Always try to expose water courses in a way that
expresses the natural topography.
• Habitat conservation and creation
Development should seek not just to conserve
existing assets but to create new habitats. Previously
developed sites often contain a greater diversity of
species and habitats than greenfield sites which have
been used for intensive agriculture.
• Aspect and prospect Typical programme for an urban design framework showing
Define important views out of the site (prospect) and three rounds of community involvement
the places from where there are the most important
views into the site (aspect). Mark these on the plan
and indicate what design response is required.
• Legibility It is preferable for drainage and utilities to follow
Consider how a framework can aid legibility (the street corridors; this may influence the position of
quality of a place being welcoming, understood access points.
easily by its users, easy for visitors to orientate
• Route structure and place hierarchy
themselves, and presenting a clear image to the
Establish a clear hierarchy of movement routes, with
wider world) by identifying potential landmarks,
the best connected routes at the top of the hierarchy
nodal points, edges, gateways and thresholds
and the least well-connected at the bottom. Locate
on the plan.
major public spaces at the intersection of the most
Making the connections important routes.
• Access strategy • Walking and cycling
An access strategy will show how new infrastructure Establish the principal pedestrian and cycle routes,
can release land by providing vehicular access, taking account of walking distances to the main
including that for servicing and emergency services. amenities and public transport stops.

28 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Regional strategy for design quality
Renaissance Towns and Cities Programme

The Yorkshire Forward Renaissance Towns and Cities ‘town teams’ (locally based community groups representing
Programme (RTCP) was launched in 2001. Since then amenity, business and political interest), local authorities and other
the RTCP has worked with local communities across interested parties to re-think the purpose and physical form of their
15 programmes in 27 towns and the city of Leeds. towns and develop a shared vision for the future.
Each programme incorporates a 25-year vision for the
The towns – home to nearly a fifth of the region’s population –
renaissance of the particular town.
have all completed their visions and masterplans. Implementation
An initiative for Yorkshire & Humber, the RTCP aims to ensure that plans are now in place that include a portfolio of prioritised
towns and cities are places where people want to invest, work and projects with delivery mechanisms and timescales to realise the
live. Together with communities, partners and stakeholders, the vision of each town. These projects are now at various stages from
RTCP ensures that towns are strong and competitive by being well development to completion.
designed, well managed, connected and accessible for people.
Yorkshire Forward will next invest around £170m into the RTCP
The multi-disciplinary Renaissance Towns and Cities Team use
over a four-year period. The initiative is now embedded within its
the expertise of an international panel of experts who work with
integrated corporate planning framework.

Yorkshire Forward Renaissance Towns and Cities Programme has helped to establish partnerships between local authorities to establish visions and
deliver new infrastructure in towns and cities such as Barnsley Transport Interchange.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 29

Creating a responsive development framework
Ashford Local Development Framework (LDF)

The Ashford Local Development Framework, a spatial The framework was developed at various scales. For example,
planning strategy for the town and its surroundings, has the overall development framework, a strategic design code for
delivered a range of benefits. It has set out a clear plan for major strategic sites, a town centre framework and key transport
development, including the identification of key locations, corridor frameworks. Each level was informed by design
transport infrastructure requirements, environmental workshops involving key stakeholders from all sectors – political,
infrastructure and the housing and population densities service providers, local people and groups and developers.
necessary to sustain viable levels of social and
The application of the framework is now feeding into the
commercial infrastructure. It has also proposed a logical
Borough’s Local Development Framework, core strategies and
programme for development.
plans for:
The benefits will be shortened negotiation, better products as
• Taming the ring road and creating two-way streets
a result of negotiation between different stakeholders, greater
understanding by key local decision makers and an ability to • Site planning at the larger scale
make informed comments on planning applications for major
• Setting design parameters in more specific studies for
development and reduced uncertainty due to political support.
corridors and the town centre
As a result, the development industry has embraced the
principles of the framework on key sites. ‘The key lesson learnt is the ability to achieve consensus
on really very large challenges and the trust this
The Framework is informed by spatial considerations alongside
engenders.’ Richard Alderton, the Strategic Planning Manager
related technical studies on transport, water environment (supply,
at Ashford Borough Council, on the benefits of a town-wide
waste and flooding) and the economy. These were all focused
spatial strategy for the growth area (identified in the Regional
around the aspect of ‘capacity’ i.e. extent of growth possible
Planning Guidance (RPG9).
within acceptable environmental, economic and social limits.

The Ashford Local Development Framework bridges policy and spatial planning and sets a clear vision for the future that will inform planning applications,
major developments and reduce political uncertainty.

30 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Gaining political support for a framework
Yeovil Urban Development Framework

The Yeovil Urban Development Framework was Regular contact was maintained throughout with policy focus
commissioned to find physical solutions to deliver the groups covering public services, transportation and highways,
aspirations of the ‘Yeovil Vision’, a strategic agenda for civic design and public art, landscape, recreation and the draft
the future vitality and prosperity of the town. Regular Local Development Framework. This minimised policy conflicts
(monthly) series of press releases, launches, member and helped forge closer ties and a common point of reference
briefings and community events ensured that from start for various policy areas. It also informed the phasing programme,
to finish the scope and purpose of the framework was with information on investment programmes and policy priorities
clear to the local community, politicians, and the local in the key areas. An additional property and investment focus
property market. group ensured the feasibility of the proposals and paved the way
for public/private partnerships and land assembly.
This was further enhanced by the strength of the ‘Yeovil Vision’
campaign itself. Presentations and briefings were highly graphic A strong custodianship at officer level was essential for garnering
and were tailored to the various audiences, avoiding jargon. political support and penetrating local networks.

The Yeovil Urban Development Framework established a promotional tool for future investment in the town centre.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 31

• Public transport • Sustainability appraisals

Identify public transport opportunities. Consider Specific regulations set out what sort of
optimum routes that will serve new development environmental assessments will be needed
without causing delays to services that also serve in the case of a particular plan, framework or
other neighbourhoods. development proposal. A sustainability appraisal
• Car parking assesses activities, projects, programmes, plans
Assess what parking provision would be appropriate, and policies according to social, economic and
given the location and intended uses on the site, and environmental criteria. The appraisal may involve
consider how this can be accommodated in the built identifying sustainable development indicators
form. (See English Partnerships’ ‘Car Parking: what (SDI) so that the long-term effects of the plan or
works where’).3 proposal can be monitored. Its broad analysis
may be presented in the form of a checklist.
Detailing the place It should be an integral part of the process of
• Plot and building type formulating an urban design framework, and the
Consider how plots can best be subdivided, and how brief and team should reflect this.
this will relate to the building types used. • Using the framework as a promotional tool 011
• Implementation and delivery An urban design framework can serve as
• Management and maintenance strategy a promotional or marketing tool, perhaps
Consider how the development might be for an area that is likely to be developed in
managed and maintained, and how the design several phases and by several developers.
should take account of this (see also chapter 5). The framework’s vision can communicate the
wider intentions for the area, highlighting its full
• Technical and financial realism
potential. If this is to be one of the framework’s
Frameworks of all kinds depend on a good
roles, that should be made clear in the brief
understanding of local conditions: not only
from the outset. The full programme should also
physical, social and environmental conditions,
set out the tasks that should be carried out to
but also the economic and market conditions that
communicate and promote the vision. If the role
will determine what types of development are
of the framework is principally or solely as an
likely to be viable. Also consider if the framework
aspirational and marketing tool, all parties should
lends itself to a logical phasing plan (see also
be aware of that from the start, to avoid raising
section 3.4, Parceling land and phasing).
false expectations (see also chapter 3, Delivering
Quality and Adding Value).


1. Urban design frameworks provide a spatial is essential if the urban design framework is to be
expression to urban design policies. implemented successfully.
They can coordinate more detailed site briefs, 3. Frameworks can give confidence to residents and
codes and masterplans. investors that public and private funds are being
2. Cooperation and coordination between a local harnessed to a common goal.
authority, its departments and outside agencies

1. Creating Succesful Masterplans: A Guide for Clients. 2004. CABE
2. Preparing Design Codes: A Practice Manual. 2006. CLG
3. Car Parking: What works where. 2006. English Partnerships
Design for Homes

32 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk


1.3.1 What is sustainability?

1.3.2 Sustainable development at the national level
1.3.3 Sustainable development at the regional level
1.3.4 Sustainable development at the local level

Designing a successful place involves bringing together • Well designed and built – featuring quality built
the environmental, social and economic elements that and natural environment.
are necessary for it to be truly sustainable. • Well connected – with good transport services and
National, regional and local policies have a crucial communication linking people to jobs, schools,
role to play in demanding greater sustainability health and other services.
from future developments. Ideally, this would mean • Thriving – with a flourishing and diverse local
establishing clear and measurable targets for each economy.
aspect of sustainability. We have started to do this for • Well served – with public, private, community and
environmental sustainability as our understanding of the voluntary services that are appropriate to people’s
technologies has become more sophisticated. But not all needs and accessible to all.
aspects of sustainability are as easy to quantify.
• Fair for everyone – including those in other
Our understanding of how to use policies, targets and communities, now and in the future.
standards has developed greatly over the past few Since this definition was published, our understanding of
years. Existing practice can help us realise the often how to make communities genuinely sustainable has grown.
aspirational objectives. The following ten One Planet Living Principles can be used
to guide sustainable design:
1.3.1 What is sustainability?
• Zero carbon – reducing energy use and supplying
Before we can set targets and policies, we need to energy sustainably
understand the full spectrum of issues that sustainability • Zero waste
covers. Although it is useful to talk of the ‘triple bottom line’ • Sustainable transport
of economic, social and environmental sustainability, more
• Local and sustainable materials
detail is required to develop effective policies and targets.
• Local and sustainable food
CLG’s definition of sustainable communities1 is a useful
• Sustainable water
starting point. This says that a sustainable community is:
• Natural habitats and wildlife
• Active, inclusive and safe – fair, tolerant and
• Culture and heritage
cohesive with a strong local culture and other shared
community activities. • Equity and fair trade
• Well run – with effective and inclusive participation, • Health and happiness
representation and leadership. The design process can help to ensure that there is no
• Environmentally sensitive – providing places conflict between aims of economic growth, housing need
for people to live that are considerate of the and affordability, and environmental sustainability. Policies
environment. and targets will need to relate to more than one aspect of

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 33

Avoiding dangerous climate change (mitigation) and In addition to planning policy statements, central
adapting to its inevitable impacts has emerged as a government can promote sustainability through the use of
central aspect of sustainable development. We now know national initiatives and regulations.
more about how to tackle this. Policies and targets are
Targets and standards to measure a wider range of
being developed to reduce carbon emissions. Targets for
elements of sustainability have also been developed by
reducing carbon emissions, waste and water use, are easy
national organisations such as English Partnerships and
to measure. The sections below set out policies and targets
the Housing Corporation.
currently being used to tackle climate change.
Many of the other elements of sustainability, such as Performance standards 013
those relating to design quality, culture, community and A number of standards exist at different scales. These show
management, are more difficult to quantify and to set how different elements of sustainability can be delivered
targets for. Although there is some consensus on what sorts through development. For example:
of results and places we want to achieve, it can be difficult
• The Code for Sustainable Homes5 is a national
to assess the contribution made by a specific development.
sustainability standard for new homes. The code has
Where good standards and measures do exist, they are
six levels, with level six being zero carbon. It includes
detailed in the sections below. 012
standards on water, energy, materials, surface water
run-off, waste, pollution, health and well-being,
1.3.2 Sustainable development at the
management and ecology.
national level
The code is currently voluntary, but the government
Sustainable development is now at the heart of national has proposed a timetable for integrating code
policy and decision-making. Much of the inspiration for standards into the statutory building regulations so
this has come from beyond the UK, for example from the that all homes will be zero-carbon by 2016. Since
Kyoto Protocol, which obliges the UK to cut greenhouse April 2007 all homes funded by English Partnerships
gas emissions, the EU Energy Performance in Buildings and the Housing Corporation have been required to
Directive2, which will require buildings to display energy meet level three of the code. English Partnerships
performance certificates, and the Strategic Environmental will step up requirements ahead of building
Assessment (SEA) Directive.3 regulations and will be trialling level six on its
Carbon Challenge sites.
Planning policy
• Building for Life is the national benchmark for
In England, control over development is governed by the
well-designed housing and neighbourhoods in
planning system. National policy on specific aspects of
England. The standard promotes design excellence,
planning is set out in a series of Planning Policy Statements.
celebrating best practice in the house-building
PPS14 explains that sustainable development is ‘the core
industry. The award is given to new housing projects
principle underpinning planning’. Specific PPSs and
that demonstrate a commitment to high-design
supplements deal with issues such as climate change,
standards and good place-making. It recognises
flood risk, housing, waste management, renewable energy
that high-quality design is an essential part of a
and pollution.
sustainable community, leading to improved
social well-being and quality of life by reducing
PPSs also set out how the regional spatial strategies
crime, improving public health and easing transport
(RSS) and local development frameworks (LDF) should
problems. Good design can also increase property
be produced to ensure that decisions on development are
drawn-up with community involvement, to develop a shared
vision of how areas can develop sustainably. They also In addition, a range of private sector standards
require local authorities to prepare a delivery plan for have been developed. Often these are set by the
the sustainable community strategy (SCS). This offers landowner. Both English Partnerships and the
important opportunities for coordinating local action on Housing Corporation have developed quality
sustainable development. standards to be met for all projects funded by them.

34 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Creating a web-based tool to deliver sustainable communities
Inspire East Excellence Framework - www.inspire-east.org.uk

Inspire East is a Regional Centre of Excellence for checklist of basic considerations projects should address.
Sustainable Communities in the East of England. Its aim Depending on local circumstances, there might be a trade-off in
is to deliver the knowledge, skills and advice that will the short-term of the priority given to different components, but
inspire the use and application of best practice in the in the longer term all components must be addressed to ensure
development of sustainable communities. that a community is sustainable.

Working with the Building Research Establishment, Inspire East The Inspire East Excellence Framework has been tested by
has created an excellence framework, a web-based tool, which a number of organisations including the Building Research
provides guidance on achieving excellence in sustainable Establishment. It is intended to be used in the following ways:
communities in the East of England.
• As a signposting tool for advice and information
The excellence framework is based on eight components which
• To look for minimum and excellent standards, case studies
are required in order to plan, deliver and maintain sustainable
and best practice
communities: social and cultural, governance, transport and
connectivity, services, environmental, equity, economy, and • To appraise the quality of projects
housing and built environment. For each of these, there is a
• To evaluate the success of projects

Inspire East Excellence Framework found at www.inspire-east.org.uk was established as a tool to provide advice and information, case studies and best
practice information and an appraisal and evaluation process. It sets out eight components that are intended to assist with the planning, delivery and
maintenance of sustainable communities.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 35

Developing standards as a tool to delivery
English Partnerships / the Housing Corporation Design Quality Standards

English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation English Partnerships has set 16 objective standards and
have developed a clear and unequivocal set of nationally four qualitative measures including:
recognised Quality Standards which they require for
• Site specific design issues
all projects. They have worked together to develop a
consistent approach where possible, defining some of • Community engagement
the key ingredients of sustainable place making. Projects
• Long-term management
that fail to meet any of the minimum criteria set out by
each agency are not seen as a compliant bid or eligible • Deliverability
for funding.
This approach brings clarity and consistency to all projects
As sponsored bodies of Communities and Local Government whilst rewarding innovation. English Partnerships recognises that
(CLG), both English Partnerships and Housing Corporation need good place-making cannot be totally prescribed; it is a mixture
to demonstrate how projects which they fund or enable, support of objective and qualitative measures. As developers become
high-quality sustainable growth, and how they directly relate to familiar with objective standards they can optimise design and
Public Service Agreements (PSAs) set by Government for CLG. supply chain efficiencies through better planning and partnering
English Partnerships have required Quality Standards for all allowing them to focus greater resources on the qualitative
projects briefed since September 2005, using existing standards elements on a site-by-site basis. Qualitative elements however
validated by others such as the Code for Sustainable Homes, will be assessed in a consistent manner.
Secured by Design or Building for Life.
The Housing Corporation sets minimum standards and then
incentivises bidders through a set of Housing Quality Indicators
(HQIs) which encourage them to maximise the potential quality
of new homes on each site.

The Summit House at Allerton Bywater was one of the first projects to be built to English Partnerships’ Quality Standards.

36 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

1.3.3 Sustainable development at the 1.3.4 Sustainable development at the

regional level local level
Action at the local level is a crucial part of creating
Understanding baselines
sustainable communities. While national and regional
Building up a picture of key baselines, such as carbon
policy should guide place-making, some local authorities
dioxide emissions and vulnerabilities, will provide robust
have recently been leading central government in raising
data to inform policy.

Sustainable development policies

Planning policy 014
The regional spatial strategy has a key role to play in
A strong planning framework is needed at district level
developing the sustainable development framework and
to secure sustainable development from housing and
integrating it into strategic planning policies, relating to
associated energy infrastructure. County councils have
housing, regeneration, energy supply and economic
the potential to play a strategic role, including providing
guidance to districts and boroughs. Robust links to the local
strategic partnership and sustainable communities strategy
Planning tools and guidance
will be needed to secure delivery.
The regional spatial strategy can be used to establish a
framework of tools and guidance, informing local planning Core strategies and development plan documents should
policy and facilitating the assessment and monitoring of be used to set out policy priorities. They form the starting
planning applications. The draft South West Regional Spatial point for establishing specific sustainability requirements.
Strategy for example, sets targets to reduce greenhouse gas For example, policies establish frameworks for energy,
emissions along with policies on sustainable construction addressing issues of density, layout, and the creation
and renewable energy generation. Regional sustainability of community heat and power networks. They can also
checklists are being developed for all regions which cover coordinate other action aimed at delivering sustainable
all scales of development. These are particularly effective communities, relating to issues such as accessibility, retail,
if linked to individual sustainable development targets. community facilities, affordable housing and employment.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 37

Setting measurable standards
Edinburgh Standards For Sustainable Building

Edinburgh City Council have adopted the Edinburgh • Encourage use of sustainable resources and materials
Standards for Sustainable Building, one element of the
• Reduce pollution and encourage recycling
Edinburgh Standards suite, as supplementary planning
guidance which is required for all major planning • Encourage sustainable construction and operation
applications (over 100m2 gross floor area, 10 residential
Each section has precise targets to be met, details of how
units or sites 0.5ha and above).
these can be measured and case study examples of successful
The Standards cover energy efficiency, renewables, waste, precedents. Applicants provide details of how standards are
materials and design. The standards are set out within six met within a table, which clearly identifies the specific items
principles: that makes up each of the six principles, along with the scores
associated with their achievement. This must be accompanied
• Quality in layout, building and landscaping design
by a Sustainability Statement detailing the factors considered.
• Design inclusive, health and safe environments All schemes must meet the overall score for each principle. In
achieving this, buildings will qualify for the councils proposed
• Reduce climate change impacts and increase renewable
Sustainable Building Award Scheme.
energy generation

Edinburgh City Council’s Standards for Sustainable Building will ensure new developments reflect the design quality and sustainability of Slate Green,
an award winning mixed tenure development in the city.

38 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Establishing national consensus on policy
The Merton Rule

The London Borough of Merton was the first local authority Office London and the ODPM over concerns about its legalities
in the UK to include a policy in its Unitary Development under the Town and Country Planning Act and enforcement of
Plan requiring ‘all new non-residential development above renewables through Building Regulations. Merton formed an
a threshold of 1,000m2…to incorporate renewable energy alliance with environmental and other organisations to explain
production equipment to provide at least 10% of predicted the benefits of the policy and was instrumental in persuading the
energy requirements’. Government to confirm in Planning Policy Statement 22, both
the legality of such policies, and its desire to see other boroughs
Recognising that a one size fits all policy is not the answer
emulate them.
Merton is developing a guidance matrix (as part of an SPD on
sustainable design and construction) that will act as an advice This radical policy has ensured that similar renewable energy
document for interpreting the ‘at least 10%’ section of the policy. policies have become embedded into the mainstream and
It will be subdivide into percentage targets for different types demonstrated the power of local governments.
of development, linked to increasing annual targets (non-
‘The key to the nation wide success of the policy was
compound). Merton has now revised the policy for their draft LDF
its timing. It was easily replicable and answered the
to so that all development over 75m2 of one or more residential
frustration of many younger generation planners across
units will have to meet the policy. The policy requires the use of
the country who have been wanting to bring about similar
renewable energy to cut predicted CO2 emissions by at least
change in the policy’. Adrian Hewitt, the Climate Change
10%, rather than to generate 10% of energy use.
Strategy and Project Manager at London Borough of Merton,
There was initial opposition to the policy from Government on the Merton Rule.

Castle Morpeth

Blyth Valley


North Tyneside

Newcastle upon Tyne

South Tyneside




Wear Valley

Durham Easington
Fully adopted



Redcar and Cleveland



Included in draft
South Lakeland



Lancaster Harrogate

Actively progressing
Wyre Ribble Valley

East Riding of Yorkshire



Fylde Selby
Kingston upon Hull

South Ribble

Blackburn with Darwen Rossendale

Assessing feasibility
Chorley Wakefield

West Lancashire Rochdale
North Lincolnshire
Sefton Bolton

North East Lincolnshire

Oldham Doncaster

St. Helens

Warrington Sheffield West Lindsey
Wirral High Peak


Ellesmere Port and Neston

East Lindsey
Vale Royal

North East Derbyshire

Derbyshire Dales Newark and Sherwood

Ashfield North Kesteven

Staffordshire Moorlands
Crewe and Nantwich

Amber Valley Gedling


Newcastle-under-Lyme Boston


North Norfolk
North Shropshire
East Staffordshire South Kesteven

Oswestry Stafford
South Derbyshire
South Holland

North West Leicestershire King's Lynn and West Norfolk Broadland

Telford and Wrekin
Cannock Chase
Great Yarmouth
Shrewsbury and Atcham Rutland

South Staffordshire Tamworth Breckland
Hinckley and Bosworth Peterborough

Wolverhampton Oadby and Wigston
South Norfolk
Bridgnorth North Warwickshire Harborough

Nuneaton and Bedworth Corby
South Shropshire East Northamptonshire


Rugby Huntingdonshire
Wyre Forest Forest Heath

Bromsgrove East Cambridgeshire

Redditch Mid Suffolk

St. Edmundsbury

Suffolk Coastal
Worcester Bedford
Malvern Hills Stratford-on-Avon
South Cambridgeshire

South Northamptonshire

Milton Keynes Babergh

Mid Bedfordshire

North Hertfordshire Braintree

Cherwell Uttlesford

South Bedfordshire Stevenage

Luton Colchester
Cheltenham Aylesbury Vale
East Hertfordshire

West Oxfordshire
Forest of Dean

Dacorum St. Albans Harlow

Welwyn Hatfield

Broxbourne Maldon
Stroud Epping Forest

Chiltern Hertsmere
Three Rivers Enfield
Vale of White Horse South Oxfordshire
Barnet Rochford
Waltham Forest Basildon
Harrow Haringey Redbridge

Swindon Brent Camden Hackney Southend-on-Sea
South Bucks Barking and Dagenham Castle Point
Hillingdon Islington
South Gloucestershire City of Tower Newham
Ealing Westminster City of Hamlets Thurrock
North Wiltshire Kensington London
Slough and Chelsea
Windsor and Maidenhead and Fulham Southwark Greenwich
Hounslow Bexley
Lambeth Lewisham
Reading Richmond upon Wandsworth
West Berkshire Thames Dartford Medway
Wokingham Spelthorne
Bracknell Forest
Runnymede Kingston upon Thames Thanet
North Somerset Bromley
Sutton Croydon Swale
Bath and North East Somerset Kennet
Surrey Heath Epsom and Ewell

Woking Canterbury

Sevenoaks Tonbridge and Malling

Basingstoke and Deane Rushmoor
Reigate and Banstead Maidstone
Guildford Dover
West Wiltshire
Mole Valley


Waverley Ashford
West Somerset Crawley Tunbridge Wells
Test Valley

Salisbury Shepway
North Devon
East Hampshire

Mid Sussex
Taunton Deane
South Somerset Wealden

North Dorset
Lewes Hastings
Mid Devon

East Dorset New Forest Fareham Adur The City of Brighton and Hove
Havant Worthing
West Dorset
East Devon

Poole Bournemouth

Purbeck Isle of Wight

West Devon
North Cornwall

Weymouth and Portland


Restormel Plymouth

South Hams




This map highlights those local authorities that have adopted, or are in the process of adopting similar policies to the Merton Rule.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 39

Policies should be described in more detail in associated Rather than reinventing the wheel, local authorities
development plan documents, including supplementary should use existing standards where possible, agreeing
planning documents or area action plans. Dedicated adaptations where necessary to fit with regional and local
development plan documents on aspects of sustainable context.
communities should establish the planning framework in
Area action plans provide the opportunity to set additional
greater detail. This will provide planning officers with the
targets for specific sites, which can be tailored to the
powers to implement policies and strategies, and offer
site conditions and local aspirations. These can focus
detailed guidance for those implementing policies through
attention on the relationships between different aspects
of sustainable development and help to address any
Local authorities across England are currently beginning conflicts – between climate change mitigation, adaptation,
to introduce a range of planning policy requirements. space and recreation, and biodiversity, for example.
These include:
Leadership 015
• Carbon reductions from on-site renewables
Strong political commitment at the local level can
(the Merton Rule)
demonstrate leadership and reinforce the need for action
• Compulsory connections to district heat or power across communities. Leadership should be demonstrated
networks through a sustainable development policy framework,
• Minimum Code for Sustainable Homes (or BREEAM) adopted at the highest level. One way of doing this is to
scores bring council leaders together to sign the local authority
• Minimum scores using regional sustainability checklists up to the Nottingham Declaration on Climate Change.
This sets out headline targets, a vision and a strategy for
• Minimum percentages of affordable homes
action. It will also be possible to broaden a declaration to
• Minimum Building for Life score cover other elements of sustainable place-making. The
• Secured by Design accreditation Energy Saving Trust has created an online pack to help
• Lifetime Homes accreditation authorities wishing to sign up.
(See www.energysavingtrust.org.uk)
• Green Flag accreditation for parks and urban green
• Policies aimed at reducing the need to travel by
unsustainable modes


1 Good design can help create places which bring 3 Many valid standards exist. These should be
together all elements of sustainability. incorporated at national, regional and local levels
2 Some aspects of sustainability can be hard to to demand more from development.
measure. That does not mean they should
be dismissed.

1. Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future. 2003. ODPM
2. Directive on the energy performance of buildings. 2002. European Parliament
3. Directive on strategic environmental assessment. 2004. European Parliament
4. Policy Planning Statement 1: Delivering Sustainable Development. 2005. ODPM
5. Code for Sustainable Homes. 2006. CLG

40 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk


1.4.1 The roots of character

1.4.2 Building and indentity
1.4.3 Town centres
1.4.4 Corporate and local identity

Places that grow true to their locality are likely to development are both achieved by making full use of
be sustainable, enjoyable and to attract investment the resources immediately at hand: reducing, reusing
– intellectual, cultural and financial. An appreciation of and recycling.
local climate, urban form, culture, topography, building
types and materials is necessary to nurture local Movement and character
distinctiveness. If movement and the resulting pattern of routes is basic to
our experience of place, retaining or creating the character
Policies should not promote pastiche developments.
of a place should be based on the characteristics of the
They should provide an understanding of what has come
movement pattern: its connections, its hierarchies, its
before and, based on this, what is likely to be appropriate
geometry and its relation to topography.
in the future.
At a time when many places are beginning to look alike, Retaining existing features
effective urban design policies and strategies have the Retaining existing features on a site, either in substance,
potential to reinforce local character and create places position or alignment, is often far more effective in creating a
with a real sense of identity. It is possible to identify tangible sense of character than a pastiche design (drawing
those assets worth protecting and build this into policy, on parts of other works, or elements of various local styles)
even if neighbourhoods cannot always be saved from would be. Features to be taken into consideration include
unwanted change. existing uses and buildings, topography, watercourses,
routes, boundaries and trees.
1.4.1 The roots of character
Knowing what to retain and how to make best use of it
will depend on careful appraisal work to determine the
More than aesthetic dressing 016
benefits likely to be achieved and the resources required.
New development achieves local distinctiveness, character
A sustainability appraisal may help in striking the balance.
and identity too rarely. Creating a distinctive character is
often thought of as an aesthetic dressing, reduced to a
Reconnecting to the hinterland
limited range of vernacular building types, local materials
Adapting landscapes and finding multiple uses for them
and colours, draped over a structure of cul-de-sacs and
can help make a place that is both locally distinctive and
loop roads that is alien to the locality. Table 1.4 sets out the
sustainable. Local ecologies will be an important part of
most useful tools for reinforcing identity.
character. Landscape and countryside, the hinterlands of
urban areas, are not merely visual assets but, in the wider
Urban structure
sense, the basis for urban development. They have a role
Success in delivering new development with a strong sense
in recreation, open space, producing food and energy,
of local identity is much more likely if the roots of character
providing habitats, managing surface water, and screening
are recognised in the urban structure: the relationship
and buffering development.
between landscape, settlement and movement. Movement
patterns form the framework for our experience of place. Site appraisals should examine the potential for all
these functions, and appropriate proposals should be
Character and sustainability incorporated into a green infrastructure strategy.
There is a direct link between local character and
sustainable development. Local identity and sustainable

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 41

Scale Tool Purpose

Regional or Character study A promotional tool which can be used to provide vision and guidance
sub-regional on how new development can retain unique aspects of local character

Regional or Design guide or initiative Promotes high design quality and standards. Potential for adoption at
sub-regional local level as a supplementary planning document (SPD)

Local Tall buildings policy and Identifies appropriate location for tall buildings and appropriate scale
guidance and mix of uses. Enables protection of historic environments

Local Public art policy and Guidance on how public arts can promote local character and identity
(supplementary planning guidance by creating a sense of place and engaging local communities
document, SPD )

Local Shopfronts policy and Guidance on how shopfronts can reinforce the character of
(SPD) guidance town centres

Local Industrial, retail, commercial Guidance on how development can make a positive contribution to
(SPD) policy and guidance local environment

Local Policy and guidance on Guidance on how house extensions can reflect local character
(SPD) house extensions

Village Village design guide Produced by local communities to identify local character and set out
design guidance for new development. They usually focus on
landscape, settlement shape and buildings

Neighbourhood Conservation area Protects and enhances the quality of the environment through controls
on demolition, new development, trees and satellite dishes. Can also
limit permitted development

Site Design code Can reinforce site characteristics through use of specified colours,
materials and species

Table 1.4 Policy tools for protecting character and identity

42 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Creating a spatial strategy for a sub-region
A Guide to the Future Thames Gateway

New things happen: a guide to the future Thames Gateway to raising design quality as set out in the Interim Plan are
is unique in its attempt to identify the character of the delivered. CLG’s three commitments are:
largest growth area in the southeast. Through a year-long
• Thames Gateway Design Pact – the Pact sets out
research study, detail characteristics of places throughout
exactly what commitment is needed from all local
the Gateway were examined. Its findings will inform
authorities to ensure that all new development is of high
planning policies, design decisions, and investment
quality and in line with the character of the area and will
strategies for the area.
invite them to sign up to it.
Commissioned by CLG to inform the Thames Gateway Interim
• Housing Audits – to check on progress and provide an
Plan: Policy Framework (Nov 2006), and led by CABE,
independent view of quality, CABE will do repeat Housing
the study mapped the landscape and urban character of
Audits. The aspiration is that in 2010, no scheme will be
the area. In addition, it was informed by consultation with
assessed as ‘poor’ and at least 50% of schemes should
professionals engaged in changing the sub-region, workshops
be ‘good’ or ‘very good’. By 2015, 100% should be rated
in Kent, Essex and London, and interviews with people interested
‘good’ or ‘very good’.
in the Gateway’s future.
• Thames Gateway Parklands – the findings will also feed
These ideas will be implemented by CABE through a range
into the Parklands Strategy, the key spatial framework for
of projects over 2007/08 ensuring that CLG’s commitments
delivering the vision for Thames Gateway.

People’s relationship with the river was a key aspect in assessing the roots of character in the Thames Gateway.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 43

Understanding the context of the site
Newhall, Harlow

The masterplan for Newhall, a new neighbourhood achieve this, the Newhall Design Code stipulates a colour and
for 6,000 people in Harlow, responds to specific materials palette to be used to create contemporary architecture.
characteristics and features of the site, demonstrating This is based on the belief that every settlement can be distinct
that the intrinsic differences of every site can inform by virtue of its mineral setting. A detailed study of the materials
new development and create distinctive places. and colours used in local traditional architecture in the area
informed four palettes which are used to describe facades,
Existing features such as woodlands, hedgerows, trees and
roofs, paintwork and floorscape. Quality materials include hand-
species-rich grassland are retained and existing drainage
made bricks, Welsh slates, and granite setts and kerbs for street
courses have been made part of a comprehensive SUDS
scheme. The hierarchical street layout is based on a lattice
structure, stretched to suit the topography and where possible, Newhall demonstrates that the intrinsic differences of every site
streets run alongside existing vegetation to ensure that this can can inform development proposals to create distinct places that
be retained within the public realm. have a character and identity of their own. It also illustrates that
you don’t need fake elements and pastiche to make a place
The masterplan demonstrates in particular how high-quality
identifiable; high-quality contemporary architecture located within
contemporary architecture located within a site that responds
a site that responds to its context can create highly successful
to its context can create an identity for the neighbourhood. To
identifiable places.

The unique colour and materials palette for Newhall uses the mineral setting of the site to determine the character and identity of the neighbourhood.

44 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Understanding and protecting character
Stratford-on-Avon District Design Guide

1.4.2 Building and indentity In the late 1990s, prior to full revision of their Local
Plan, Stratford-on-Avon District Council members felt
Reinterpretation and invention 017 the need to address issues of local distinctiveness and
There are often good reasons why local building forms have sustainability. To that end they supported a resolution
developed in a particular way. They might, for example, that, for planning purposes, all development should be
be concerned with modifying microclimate or making use local, equitable and sustainable. This resolution was
of locally available materials. Many towns have a colour
the foundation for the Stratford-on-Avon District Design
signature which derives from their mineral setting. Buildings
Guide (2001).
which draw on these origins and interpret them, where
appropriate, in ways which respond to contemporary The guide works on the premise that the existing built
needs are likely to be more successful than an uncritical environment should be seen as a design resource.
reproduction of a local vernacular. Characteristic patterns at different levels of scale from the
landscape down through settlements, streets, highways
Attention to detail
and open space, plot series, plots, buildings, materials and
Attention to detail is a key to the successful design of both
details provide a framework within which new development
buildings and places. There are details at all levels of scale,
from the pattern of centres in a city region to the texture of can accommodate both continuity and change.
building materials. Since its foundation, the guide has been successful in
Some basic questions should be asked of any development helping to deliver a wide range of schemes across the
proposal, whether it is for a town centre, an urban extension, District which respond to the characteristics of the area,
or an individual street or building: yet are contemporary and innovative. This includes a
number of schemes which have been short-listed for the
• What role will it play within larger physical, social and
economic structures? council’s Design Award.

• What will be its overall presence, in terms of form,

shape and size?
• How are its component parts designed and
arranged, and how will it work internally?

1.4.3 Town centres

Urban form, activity and character

The character and identity of a town centre will be rooted
in its urban structure, and its patterns of movement and
activity. That character will be expressed through the form
of urban blocks, and the scale and size of the buildings that
compose them. Inappropriate scales, such as large retail
buildings or shopping centres, often occupying an entire
block or more, can threaten the character and identity of
an existing town centre.

Shopping streets and the big box 018

Creating shopping streets rather than shopping centres can
be a key to making a place with character. Here are some
ways of achieving it:
• Develop smaller urban blocks.
• Make use of changes in ground level.
• Create outward-facing frontages.

The Stratford-on-Avon District Design Guide has assisted in delivering

contemporary schemes which respond to the characteristics of the area.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 45

Retaining character through a rental scheme
Marylebone High Street

Over the last decade, Marylebone High Street has accept the highest offers from big chains. Waitrose, however,
transformed from a fading shopping street with 51 empty was specifically targeted as an anchor tenant.
shops to a street that is thriving. Since the 1990s the
Today, Marylebone High Street has a diverse mix of shops, cafés
landowners, Howard de Walden Estates, have initiated a
and restaurants, making it not only a popular destination but also
strategic process of transformation, to ensure a mix of
an area with a distinct identity. Traffic and parking strategies have
boutiques and small but useful shops on the high street.
also been aligned to work for the social and economic benefit of
The aim is to ‘maximise the village atmosphere and not swamp the shopping street. The single ownership of Howard de Walden
it with multi-national retailers so it is indistinguishable from Estates has made the regeneration of Marylebone High Street
any other high street’, explains Steven Hudson of Howard de easier. However, long-term thinking, a clear strategy and planning
Walden Estates. He adds, ‘It is essential to maintain a diverse in the right mix of uses along a street can achieve similar results
and interesting retail mix offering good quality products, and this elsewhere. Andrew Ashenden, Chief Executive of Howard de
concept is continually reviewed.’ Tenants are chosen to add to Walden Estates at the time of the project, identifies the economic
the quality of the high street, and the landlords do not simply imperatives for a successful high street – ‘Shoppers must have
variety, owners have to have growth and tenants have to do well.’

Marylebone High Street has retained its character by encouraging independent retailers and minimising the number of multi-national retailers.

46 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Extracting and emphasising character
Five Arts Cities In Oxford

A small highly graphic guide book to Oxford’s hidden The brochure was dispatched free of charge and acted to
gems, produced as part of a year’s multi-media event, introduce something of the real character and nature of Oxford
identifies and pinpoints residents insights into the integral life to visitors and residents alike, crystallising another reality of
elements making up the character of their city for all to the city’s character and adding another layer to its identity.
Five Arts Cities, a joint venture between Arts Council England and
Consultation with local people revealed the particular places that Five TV to encourage participation and engagement with the arts,
were felt integral to the character of the Oxford they knew from focussed its attention on Oxford through a year-long multi-media
the perspective of their day-to-day lives in the city. The places event. Oxford was the third city to be recipient of this focus of
were divided into the following headings: ‘five places to stop and attention, with Liverpool and Newcastle/Gateshead addressed
stare’, ‘five cafés with character’, ‘five places for quiet reflection’, in former years. Over the year, Five TV broadcast a series of
‘five ways to charm the children’, ‘five cultural interludes’, ‘five programmes on Oxford’s particular contribution to the arts
things we couldn’t live without’, ‘five first dates’ and ‘five good scene and these were supported by various events such as
reasons to look upwards’. exhibitions, artists talks and education. A website also provided
details of events.

Five Arts Cities, helped to promote Oxford’s arts scene through the production of a guide book, exhibitions, education and a website – www. five.tv/fiveartscities.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 47

• Encourage a mix of uses, especially ones that will be number of planning appeal decisions is limiting the size and
active in the evening spread of the multiple retailers.
• Bring scattered civic uses back into the town centre. In some cases, as in the example of Marylebone High Street
• Make sure that the public realm is publicly owned in London, multiples are controlled through land ownership
• Provide for local shops and services, by cross- and lease agreements. Smaller shops and local traders
subsidy if necessary can be supported through planning policy and section 106
agreements. Specific retail uses can be encouraged through
• Make the place adaptable in small stages over time
upfront subsidies.
• Let different architects design different buildings
An effective way of supporting the diversity and individuality
• Set a limit to the proportion of the town centre that
of local shops is for individuals to patronise valued traders
can be roofed-in
and avoid those that do not make a positive contribution to
Increasingly, local communities are challenging the the locality. The community ownership of shops is another
purported benefits of large-scale retail development and means of retaining local control and character.
setting limits on the size of big-box retail buildings.
Branding 020
1.4.4 Corporate and local identity Many local authorities use the marketing tools of retailers
in promoting the character and identity of a town or city as
Maintaining character 019 a place to visit, live and work. The aim is to attract tourists,
There is also a growing resistance to what are now investment and a more skilled labour pool. Branding can
commonly referred to as ‘clone towns’. The multiples or also promote community cohesion and civic pride.
chain stores are accused of holding corporate identity
higher than local identity and making a significant The branding will need to fit with spatial and economic
contribution to the loss of character in town centres (as well planning. Masterplans, the management of public realm,
as at edge-of-centre locations). and the types of businesses and institutions encouraged
to a place, all have a significant impact on how a place is
In response to this erosion of character, groups and perceived. The most successful branding campaigns do not
communities in the USA and the UK are taking action to create an identity in a vacuum but build on locally distinctive
retain local distinctiveness. There are now many examples of features: the fabric of the town, its history and activities, and
planning ordinances in the USA limiting the number and size its neighbourhoods and their communities.
of formula retail outlets within an area. Similarly, a growing


1. Places that grow true to their locality are likely to 3. Policies based on an appreciation of the local
be sustainable, enjoyable and to attract investment climate, culture, topography, building solutions and
– intellectual, cultural and financial. materials can help ensure that the right buildings are
2. At a time when many places are beginning to look in the right places.
alike, effective urban design policies have the
potential to reinforce local character and create
places with a real sense of identity.

48 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk


1.5.1 Contributing to place-making

1.5.2 When to engage
1.5.3 The guiding principles

In most successful developments the process of change Community involvement in planning is part of people’s
involves the people who live and work there, who right to participate in decisions that affect their lives. Many
understand the area and who are committed to making statutory processes require such involvement. Many grant-
good things happen. People may share a common funding organisations prefer, or even require, local people
concern for the area but have different priorities and to have been involved before giving financial assistance.
concerns. Involving the community is not just a matter Involvement can allow proposals to be tested and refined
of consulting people. It can also be a process of raising before adoption, resulting in the use of resources in a way
the profile of planning in communities and helping to that is in tune with what is needed and wanted.
create a consensus so that planning applications can be
When a community gains a better understanding of the
processed more smoothly. It can help to integrate new
options that are realistically available, it can be constructive
and existing communities.
in shaping proposals. The planning process can reduce time
Development may be seen as a threat to the identity of wasting conflicts, and trade-offs can be negotiated between
an area, and community involvement as an opportunity different interest groups to secure mutually compatible
to lobby for a particular cause rather than to shape solutions.
development. To people undertaking development,
involving communities can be seen as costly and time 1.5.2 When to engage
consuming. When undertaken effectively, though,
community involvement can help to overcome both of Influencing policy
these concerns. The issues and opportunities facing an Helping people to shape their surroundings is an essential
area can be identified and ways can be found to resolve part of creating sustainable communities through planning
potential conflicts. and development. There are a number of ways in which
community groups or individuals can influence planning
Resolving conflicts and making the most of the
policy at local or regional levels, and those developing new
contribution of local people depends on providing the
neighbourhoods or allocating sites for development can find
means for the community to become involved, being
out the views of local people.
clear about the objectives of the engagement process,
and ensuring that events are appropriate to the scale and At a national level, stakeholders are able to become involved
stage of development. If carried out successfully, the in the preparation of draft policy statements and guidance
process of engagement can improve design proposals, through public consultation. At a regional level, stakeholders
speed the planning process and help to engender a are able to influence Regional Spatial Strategies through
feeling of ownership among the local community. formal representations to the Secretary of State on draft
documents. At a local level, stakeholders are able to
1.5.1 Contributing to place-making influence Local Development Documents and planning
applications through formal representations, which are
The right to participate required to comply with a local authority’s Statement of
Creating successful neighbourhoods depends on Community Involvement. This sets out the standards to
understanding the human as well as the physical context be achieved by a local authority in involving the community
of a place and appreciating the dynamics of the local in the preparation, alteration and continuing review of all
community, including local attitudes, initiatives, history documents. Further information on influencing policy can
and customs. be found in The Planning Pack1 and on the Community
Planning Website (www communityplanning.net).

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 49

Identifying options 021 Clarify aims and objectives

Engaging the local community and stakeholders (such as When clarifying aims and objectives, it is important to
landowners, planning officers, highways officers, statutory consider such questions as:
consultees, local interest groups, designers and developers)
• What can community engagement add to the
in the development of a masterplan can significantly improve
the design’s workability. Identifying the constraints and
opportunities for the site at an early stage means that time • What are the aims of the engagement activities?
may not be wasted on unviable options. It also provides • Who are the project partners and what can they add?
those involved with a forum in which to explore each others’ • What legacy does a developer intend to leave?
concerns and to understand what is required to overcome
• What community involvement will continue after the
any potential barriers. This collaborative process can
deliver a set of ground rules and vision for a site which all
stakeholders can agree on. Developing this consensus • What outcomes are expected?
early on can improve the design of the project and ease • How will they be measured?
its passage through the development process.
Involve the right people 023
Existing and new communities 022 Carrying out a community profile will help to identify the
Community involvement procedures and techniques communities to which a project relates and the sorts of
have been developed largely for existing towns and people who live in the area. This will help in choosing the
neighbourhoods. The people consulted are those who most appropriate community involvement techniques, in
would be directly affected by the proposals. Where a new identifying important organisations and establishing some
neighbourhood is proposed, it can be difficult or impossible of the area’s significant characteristics.
to engage with those who will ultimately live there. In this It may be useful to use mediation techniques if there are
situation, neighbouring communities may see development problems with community cohesion.
primarily in terms of how they themselves are affected. To
gain a balanced view, it can be helpful to invite a wider range Involving stakeholders such as highway authorities, the
of organisations (such as local registered social landlords, Environment Agency, planning authorities and utility
community groups and welfare officers) to speak on behalf companies at the start of a project can help to establish
of those they represent. As initial phases are built, their the site’s constraints and opportunities.
new residents should be engaged in the process of making Where partners are involved, it is important that time is
decisions about the area’s future development. provided to develop capacity and understanding of the
project vision. In many cases as much time will need to
1.5.3 The guiding principles be spent in developing the partners as to working with
The following principles for finding out about community the community itself.
concerns and aspirations are likely to apply in all situations:
Managing expectations
Get started early Setting out the ground rules is vital to achieving realistic
Opportunities should be provided for people to participate targets and avoiding unrealistic expectations. The following
in identifying issues and debating options from the earliest issues should be clear to everyone:
stages. People should become involved at a point when • What process is the community being asked to
they have the potential to make a difference. It may take time become involved in?
to build their capacity for this. It is important to be aware
• How will its input be used?
of what other community involvement processes are also
underway in the area, so that steps can be taken to avoid • What will be the extent of the community’s influence?
overloading people. • How will decisions be made?
• What sort of time commitments will be involved?
• Will training be provided?
• What is the potential for people to remain involved in
the long term?

50 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Playing games to identify growth areas
The Ashford Game

As part of the community engagement process in Ashford, Players worked together to place tiles representing 25 ha of
a board game was developed to help the local community different development types: residential neighbourhood, living
and key stakeholders test a range of scenarios against quarter, town centre, office precinct, industrial estate, regional
the vision. Using an aerial photograph of the town and parks, lakes and reservoirs.
development tiles, the game allows stakeholders to make
The game requires good facilitation to ensure all issues are
strategic choices about the density and location of future
understood, weighed appropriately and considered when
development and to identify the consequences this would
making key decisions. It also enables the game to be focused
have for place-making and sustaining local services. Key
on specific issues such as infrastructure, facility as appropriate.
considerations are where development should be, what
form it should take and what the implications are. The The simplicity of the game has enabled it to also be used as a
main output of this process was to determine an agreed training tool on master planning with a variety of audiences, from
set of objectives for the sustainable growth of Ashford. central government economists, local government bodies and
development staff.

Playing the Ashford Game assisted the local community and stakeholders to make strategic choices about the density and location of development.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 51

Undertake Approved Secure planning and

Set policy A legacy
design investment technical approvals

Action Planning Event

Art workshop

Award schemes

Community planning forum

Ideas competition

planning office

Newspapers and newsletters

Open house event/exhibition

Open space workshop

Planning days

Reconnaissance trips

Street stall

Table 1.5 An example of how different community engagement tools can be mapped against the development process

52 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Establishing community facilities through developer contributions
Allerton Bywater Millennium Community

The Allerton Bywater Millennium Community developer Provision of these facilities prior to the delivery of the new
contributions were used to rejuvenate the former infant development not only benefited the existing population but
school, Miners’ Welfare Hall and bowling green adjacent also provided a platform to integrate the new and existing
to the planned development. Allotments and a new communities. Allerton Bywater Millennium Community has
skatepark have also been developed. The community successfully reinvigorated and expanded a former mining
today plays an active role in managing these facilities and community south-east of Leeds. Early and continued
organising events and functions for the neighbourhood. consultation with the people living in the village and the wider
community has helped deliver a range of specific and need-
based facilities and benefits to the area.

The provision of a skate park prior to the delivery of development at Allerton Bywater Millennium Community has benefited the existing population
and helped to integrate new and existing communities.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 53

Involving the community to inform detailed design
Charlton Kings

Extensive consultation and collaboration with the with a high quality and ambitious ‘early win’ project. A specially
local community was a cornerstone of public realm designed workshop to work with local children helped design the
improvements at Charlton Kings (near Cheltenham), the mosaics in the central water body feature.
subject of a Placecheck Initiative with £500,000 funding
The scheme is part of larger long-term proposals that include
from central government.
the development of an extensive and high quality open space
The Charlton Kings Local Regeneration Partnership representing system providing new connections between the town and
the Borough, County and Parish Councils, CK2000 residents countryside, new areas of habitat creation, public arts strategies
group, local schools, shopkeepers and a diverse range of for use as local educational resources, areas of new infill
other local interests formed a steering group. Initial funding was residential and retail development overlooking the improved
targeted at public realm improvements to the village centre open spaces. A comprehensive implementation programme
identifies funding and delivery mechanisms.

Consultation and collaboration with the local community and a workshop with local children helped design the mosaics in
Charlton Kings Town Centre water feature.

54 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Be realistic Provide effective facilitation

Starting the involvement process early and establishing Providing independent facilitators can help to reduce
clear responsibility for the various tasks among the partners conflict if they have the right skills and expertise to manage
will help to avoid delays. Community engagement can the process of engagement and facilitate events. They can
require considerable resources. Developing a delivery plan create a better understanding of the outputs and the process,
can help everyone understand how much time and what particularly where the views of particular individuals or
level of skill will be needed, and how these will be provided. interest groups might otherwise dominate events.

Use appropriate tools Provide skills and training

Community engagement can be organised in a number Resources should be made available for capacity building to
of different ways. There is no standard model that fits all enable communities and stakeholders to engage fully in the
circumstances. Collaborative design workshops should be process. Depending on the level of community engagement
used where possible to improve the design of proposed and existing skills, the capacity-building process may take
development. the form of a short workshop, best practice study trips or
support for community members to study for appropriate
One collaborative tool, Enquiry by Design, was pioneered by
qualifications. The last option may be particularly appropriate
English Partnerships and the Prince’s Foundation at Upton
where there are opportunities for community members to take
and Lawley. It brings together stakeholders to collaborate
on long-term management roles.
in producing a masterplan. Putting in resources at an early
stage in this way can avoid problems later in the process
Keep it going
that might cause delays or additional costs. The principles
The process should allow communities to see how ideas
of this approach can be applied to other collaborative
have developed at various stages, with effective feedback.
approaches and to projects where there is consensus for
This ensures that everyone is aware of how consultation and
good design.
involvement can help to maintain good relations, encourage
Once decisions are made about the objectives of further engagement and result in more positive outcomes.
engagement, the boundaries of the area, and the There should be clear, formal stages in the process.
programme and funding, an appropriate method should be These should be based on statutory requirements where
developed to meet the needs of the various participants. appropriate. The stages should be part of a continuous
programme, not a series of disjointed steps. Community
Table 1.5 sets out a number of different activities and their
involvement is not simply a process to be ticked off a list.
suitability to different types of development. These are by
no means exhaustive.


1. Do not underestimate the value of public involvement. 3. Ensure that appropriate facilitation skills and
2. Start early, involve the right people, create resources are in place. Recognise that different
partnerships and identify boundaries at an early methods and techniques will be appropriate for
stage. Be clear from the outset what the agenda for different types of project.
involvement is, who is involved, what roles people
play and what the process will be.

1. The Planning Pack. 2006. CLG and RTPI

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 55
Urban design has to be accountable for solar gain, higher density and the
not just to immediate clients, conflicting needs of a mix of users. But
occupiers and neighbours but also there are many historic examples of
to future generations. Good urban towns that continue to be successful,
design is sustainable – in its use sustainable places with an appropriate
of resources, and its contribution mix of uses and densities – such places
to the stability of communities and offer lessons for the future.
their economic viability. Successful
Good urban design is sustainable
schemes embody a design approach
design. It is not about a matter of
that seeks to bring together solutions
changing the way places look but
to wide-ranging issues.
about making places work better.
Integrated design requires inter-
Good design begins with an
disciplinary working and an
understanding of movement patterns,
understanding of how design
within which appropriate uses can be
decisions in one discipline can have
located and then suitable densities
impacts in other areas.
Creating places that meet all aspects
An integrated approach has
of the sustainability agenda can
implications for how design teams
appear daunting. Designers can
work, whether in creating new
struggle to integrate good urban
neighbourhoods or remodelling
design with issues such as orientation
existing settlements.




2.1.1 What is an integrated approach?

2.1.2 Goals and performance
2.1.3 Orchestration of the design team

Good urban design can help to create thriving places energy consumption. Likewise, green spaces can provide
which are well designed, well built, inclusive and safe, leisure facilities, and landscape can modify microclimate
well run, well connected, well served, environmentally as well as creating wildlife corridors. Design responses to
sensitive and have the potential to improve life chances. objectives such as better health, higher productivity and
These aspects are often interrelated. For example, lower emissions can overlap, becoming mutually supportive.
design and management will have an impact on safety,
The relationships between the elements of the built
and well-connected places are more likely to be thriving
environment are complex. The initial task at the design stage
and active. Urban design has to be based on a thorough
is to identify the most important relationships for a particular
understanding of the relationships between the diverse
situation. These should be considered in the masterplanning
components and functions of the built environment
process. There are a number of new ways of modelling
and, where possible, an ability to quantify those
energy and resources. Spreadsheets and computer models
are being developed to help this process.
Today urban design practice is developing an integrated
approach to a wide range of factors including resources, 2.1.2 Goals and performance
emissions, health, people, culture and habitat, and how
the relationships between them can shape urban form. Setting objectives
Although this agenda may seem complex, common Virtuous cycles can be identified at a range of scales
sense application of urban design principles and and densities, from high density urban development to
collaborative working can deliver quality places. rural infill. Although there will be common issues, such as
carbon reduction, the objectives and priorities will vary
2.1.1 What is an integrated approach? with the location and nature of the project. The design
strategies, different for each place, should be based on
Interconnections 024 an understanding of factors such as local needs, culture,
Assessing and developing interconnections needs to be climate and the availability of resources.
more than simply adding a few green features to a scheme.
Setting the objectives for a project needs to be undertaken
Some green roofs or a few wind turbines by themselves
through a process of stakeholder negotiation. Workshop
are unlikely to make the most of the opportunities and
sessions at the beginning of a project can help to identify
efficiencies that are possible at the scales at which urban
important issues and decide priorities. The brief that sets the
design operates.
context for developing these issues must be a process of
The objective of an integrated process is to create places integration.
that are physically, socially and economically responsible.
This does not necessarily mean changing how we make Long life, loose fit
things look, but it does mean changing how they work. It is important that the limits and flexibility of each variable
are understood at the outset. Some variables will be flexible
Virtuous cycles 025 throughout the masterplanning and design stage, while
One of the ways of revealing these interdependencies and others will not. The most resilient parts of a masterplan
relationships is by establishing virtuous cycles. For example, should be the streets and related infrastructure. These are
connected streets encourage walking, which improves based on long-term design decisions which should allow for
health, creates active streets, and reduces pollution and sufficient capacity and flexibility to last for generations.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 59

Taking an integrated approach
Hammarby Sjöstad, Stockholm, Sweden

This new city neighbourhood has delivered an attractive Key features of the local ecosystem are:
place to live and work which is also a world class
• Refuse is piped to the renewable fuel-fired district heating
example of how new developments can minimise their
plant in the area. Combustible waste is recycled as heat and
environmental impact and enhance its setting through
food waste is composted into soil.
careful planning, joined up thinking and strong leadership.
• Wastewater is treated nearby at the on-site sewage plant with
At Hammarby Sjöstad, the environmental programme was an
heat recovered for household heating and silt converted into
integral element of the masterplan. This clearly set out key
objectives and requirements which had to be addressed at
both the planning and implementation stages of development. • Pilot of an experimental on-site sewage works which will
By having clearly stated objectives from the outset, these employ new technologies to extract nutrients from sewage
requirements informed the detailed design discussions between and waste water for use on farmland. Surface water is treated
the plot developers, architects and city planning team. locally to avoid overloading the sewage works.

Clear environmental objectives also enabled development of the Hammarby recognises that environmental performance is not
Hammarby Model, which shows how the relationship between just about design, the development also needs to influence
sewage processing, energy provision and waste handling in this how people use places. An environmental centre – has
local eco system can be structured to deliver wider social and been established at the centre of Hammarby to promote
environmental benefits. understanding of how residents can help in achieving the
city’s environmental aspirations.

The Hammarby Model illustrates how sustainability initiatives have been integrated holistically.

60 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Within this infrastructure, buildings may be replaced over Demonstrating performance

time, either incrementally or on a wider scale. Buildings A development that aims to achieve, say, a 50 per cent
capable of accommodating changing uses make more reduction in carbon dioxide should demonstrate this at
efficient use of resources. An approach to building for a the design stage by estimating energy consumption in
long life and loose fit is more responsible than building the proposed development and applying carbon dioxide
for the short term. emissions factors to achieve this, given the proposed energy
systems. The same principles can be applied to transport,
Some variables will be fixed by policies and by the
taking the number and length of journeys and the expected
requirements of the site. It is important to consider both
modal split. Models can thus be built of resources and
current and probable future requirements, especially those
emissions to inform the design stages of a project.
related to the sustainable use of energy.
2.1.3 Orchestration of the design team
Measuring performance 026
Clear objectives will enable the effectiveness of different
An integrated project team
design scenarios to be measured. How concise that
With the need to achieve a highly integrated design
measurement is, will depend on the techniques, data and
approach to complex plans, there comes a need for the
resources available. The most important aspect for the
project team to be equally well integrated. Such a process
designer is to understand the nature of the relationships
departs from leaving each discipline to develop and sign-off
between different components of a plan and how design
its own area and requires many more iterations of a design
modifications can affect the desired outcomes.
until the optimum solution is arrived at.
It is important to measure both the extent to which the
project’s objectives have been achieved and also the Orchestration
wider impact (in terms of projected carbon emissions per Coordination of the design team requires orchestration with
square metre of development, the total carbon footprint, a single person responsible for updating the masterplan.
environmental impacts and the use of scarce resources, This requires comprehensive understanding of the synergy
for example). between the various components of a plan. Urban design
will need to be an iterative process with continuous
appraisal of how design is functioning and whether it
delivers the desired outcomes.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 61

Using an integrated resource management model
Dongtan New Town, Shanghai, China

At Dongtan an integrated design approach is being Using the model includes:

adopted to enable delivery of a major sustainable city.
• Development of a sustainability appraisal framework
The model identifies how the wide ranging technical
comprising a set of objectives, KPIs and targets
inputs (transport, waste management, energy supply)
can be optimised to deliver the desired sustainability • Establishing targets that cover aspects of sustainability
performance objectives. management – social, economic, environmental and
natural resources
Arups Integrated Resource Management (IRM) model was
used to support the design decision-making process. The IRM Dongtan is intended to deliver the world’s first zero carbon city.
approach enables multi-disciplinary design parameters that Using the model, the team were able to test different design
have the potential to influence sustainability key performance scenarios to derive a zero carbon solution taking into account
indicators (KPIs) to be input into a common data model. The all significant contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. This
model acts as an interface between the sustainability framework involved, for example, design measures to dramatically reduce
and the design, and by referencing underlying data inventories, energy use in buildings and employing mixed use and density
can rapidly appraise a multi-disciplinary masterplan. Its real scenarios to reduce the need to travel.
benefit is in using the model iteratively initially to compare
different options and scenarios, and subsequently to optimise
a selected design by a process of design-evaluate-refine.

Compact City
This cycle highlights the key relationships between form and space,
buildings, energy and land take. It shows for example that building
efficiently at higher densities with generous open space can reduce more green,
the land take and in turn energy requirements. more eco city

air quality
more lakes,
land use inclusion
less water
health consumption
creates a denser
urban fabric and
buildings more open space
their lifec

form & space

and carb

with build ergy consum s

transport energy
c it

clean energy
ycle en

on diox


land take
ings that


from waste
ide emm


viability health



c in



us effe
employment/skills using less
e o cti
f la ve
land take

The Integrated Resource Model for Dongtan New Town illustrates how design parameters such as built form, environment and social issues
have influenced sustainability.

62 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Liveable City
This cycle highlights the relationships between transport, land-use, air quality
and health. It shows for example that mixing land uses reduces need for
people to travel significant distances as they can walk or cycle to a range of
facilities. This in turn improves health and air quality. zero
better air quality
attracts transport for
appropriate uses air quality
land use ic
hea h con
CO lthy lif tribute
ve the

2 em
est to
issio yle a a
tra ce

ns health

for redu

om o
ted community
ne uses

n g is pr
buildings yc li

d c energy

air quality

e wa form & space

m or
transport ss tr
l, sharing
le transport
land use
viability health
more walking
energy more cycling

land take

Socio-Economic Balance
This cycle highlights the relationships between inclusion, viability and
employment / skills. It shows for example that having an inclusive place
with a broad socio enconomic base would improve viability through
the workforce’s wide range of skills. This in turn promotes a vibrant
community with opportunities for all to improve.

air quality
land use inclusion
fresh food for

Dongtan from

ing skill

bro nom

viability vibrant local


buildings farmers
en ic ba



form & space

/ impro

transport inclusion
having a
ving hu

better city
viability & better
man ca

c o ra n t a
it y
v ib a t e s

c re



land take

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 63

Delivering a zero carbon development
Gallions Park, Albert Dock Basin, London

Gallions Park is a 1.24 ha site located in the Albert Dock The principle focus of the strategy was directed towards
Basin in the Thames Gateway which is set to deliver one achieving targets for building energy use carbon emissions,
of London’s first zero carbon developments. A feasibility however the IRM model was used to provide a more holistic view
study was undertaken to assess how a low or zero carbon by assessing the relative importance of emissions associated
development could be delivered on this site. It also looked with other aspects such as the building by its residents,
at whether a replicable delivery mechanism could be embodied energy of construction materials, supply chains,
developed, which could be achieved at close to standard transport patterns etc.
cost and act as a catalyst for the future delivery of low/
In addition to assessing the relative sustainability performance
zero carbon on a much bigger scale.
of different scenarios, the study also demonstrated that the ‘true’
An Integrated Resource Management (IRM) modelling approach greenhouse gas emissions of developments (based on a more
was used to support the assessment of different feasibility representative per capita measure) are significantly higher than
scenarios. To meet the project’s objectives the study focussed suggested by a more traditional assessment of energy use in
specifically on CO2 and other non-CO2 greenhouse gas buildings only. The information will inform both the developer
emissions arising from different contributions to energy demand. brief specification and the assessment of detailed designs.

The ‘One Gallions’ consortia’s winning scheme will deliver approximately 200 quality mixed tenure homes built to the highest environmental
standards along with community facilites.


1. Creating successful places depends on good urban approach is essential to reduce the environmental
design and a concern for sustainability – each impact of development in new settlements and
depends on the other. existing urban areas.
2. Integrated urban design is a matter of making a whole 3. The design process is inter-disciplinary and requires
that is greater than the sum of its parts. An integrated coordination to be raised to a level of ‘orchestration’.

64 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk


2.2.1 Movement
2.2.2 Modifying climate
2.2.3 Energy
2.2.4 Water
2.2.5 Waste

Urban form has a major influence on climate change. often the local network remains an isolated development pod,
Almost 30 per cent of carbon emissions come from with minimal linkages to the wider network. As a result, many
buildings and a further 25 per cent from transport.1 developments are not an integrated part of a wider settlement.
We can design places to help minimise the use of It is then difficult to achieve accessibility, security, vitality and
energy and scarce resources, and to adapt to effective mixed uses. The selection of growth areas or urban
predicted climate change. extensions need to take account of how well connected the
settlement would be at the macro scale.
Coping with climate change calls for more than just
token wind turbines or solar panels. It requires an Opportunities should be provided for new connections to
understanding of how design decisions about matters be made as a place develops. Growth should be seen as an
such as location, movement, connections, orientation opportunity to integrate improvements to the movement and
and biodiversity make a place more or less sustainable. public transport networks with an extension of the capacity
Much can be achieved at the neighbourhood and and viability of the region or settlement as a whole.
building scale. Developments should be designed to
influence the microclimate, minimise the use of energy, Identifying areas for growth
and maximise energy efficiency through local supply In many cases, the location and circumstances of the sites
and the use of renewables. Consideration should selected will make it impossible to deliver regional growth, or
also be given to factors such as water use and waste to build town extensions that are integrated with settlements
management. by connected streets. An important criterion for selection
in any sequential or comparative test should be the ability
Creative design can conserve resources and
to use or create routes through potential sites with direct
improve habitats while also creating places that work
connections on both ends to the wider movement network for
all modes of transport. The selection of a site should also be
based on an assessment of its relative accessibility from main
2.2.1 Movement
routes, and the accessibility of important services from the
site. Connections through routes to main routes in the wider
Pattern and location
network are the most effective way to achieve accessibility.
Movement is perhaps the most significant aspect of
urban form. Historic places have shown that patterns of
Creating through routes that are integral
movement that have been established over a long time
to development
to accommodate human behaviour are often capable
Delivering growth with an integrated network of through
of meeting changing needs. Cities are produced by the
routes requires looking not only outward to the wider network
design of the built environment in response to social and
but also inward to the design of the through routes. Urban
economic pressures. New urban forms, developed to meet
design is the context for highway design and engineering. To
the challenge of sustainability, can be informed by an
be successful, such routes must fulfil several different roles,
understanding of historic towns which often made efficient
accommodating transport, vehicular traffic, pedestrians and
use of resources out of necessity.
cyclists, and achieving the wider aims of urban design. It is
essential to engage in early partnership working between the
Integrate local and wider movement networks
urban design, planning, highway engineering and transport
While there has been some success in creating permeable
providers to coordinate efforts, and achieve a balanced and
networks of connected streets within developments, too
effective solution.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 65

The aim of the partnership working should be to find ways Minimising traffic fumes and using appropriate building
of accommodating appropriate volumes of traffic and public forms can make passive ventilation of buildings an option
transport, orienting development with active fronts on to the and avoid mechanical air conditioning.
main routes, giving access to development, reducing and
mitigating traffic speed and noise, accommodating parking, Slope analysis
accommodating pedestrian and cycle movement and Slope is a major factor in determining the ground
crossing; and creating a safe and comfortable environment. temperature of a site. The closer a site is to lying
Through routes are best when relatively straight. Use a perpendicular to the sun’s rays, the more solar radiation it
street-place hierarchy rather than vehicle-flow hierarchy. receives. A site in Aberdeen sloping south with a one in 10
Allow for frontage access as appropriate to the type of route gradient receives the same direct radiant heat as a flat site
type and position in that hierarchy. in Southampton, for example. Each 10 per cent southerly
gradient corresponds to a latitude six degrees further south.
2.2.2 Modifying climate
Frost pockets are caused as a layer of air immediately
above the ground cools and becomes heavier. This layer
Creating microclimate 027
of air slides down slopes until it is contained by mounding,
Buildings and cities should be designed in response to local
vegetation or buildings which prevent it escaping. Such
climate conditions. Considering topography, street layout,
potential frost pockets can be identified by an experienced
landscape, building massing and the choice of materials
eye from a contour map, or more easily by an early morning
can help to avoid heat islands, modify summer peak
walk over a site on a winter’s day. Frost pockets can be
temperatures and reduce energy loads on buildings.
reduced by damming the channels along which the cold air
Urban design can significantly reduce the energy flows by buildings or planting.
consumption of buildings through shelter and by providing
opportunities for passive solar architecture, while also Humidity
helping create a comfortable public realm. The combined Planting, lakes and ponds will increase humidity while
effects of solar radiation, convection, thermal capacity, evaporation will reduce temperatures. Vegetation will
albedo (the extent to which an object reflects light) and moderate and stabilise conditions more than large expanses
wind can cause microclimates to differ by as much as of hard surfaces. Appropriate design decisions need to be
15°C in different parts of a city. taken according to location.

66 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Responding to Microclimate
Bo01, Malmö, Sweden

The Bo01 development in Malmö has delivered a and visual resource. Together these emphasise the varying
distinctive, resource efficient and liveable place with hierarchical character of streets and public open spaces
500 homes, commercial and community facilities. The in Bo01.
high quality design was achieved through the ‘quality
A 100% local renewable energy approach adopted in the
programme’, a steering instrument for planning and
development has been successful. Orientation of building
facades and roof forms maximise solar gain. In addition,
“Prepared as a joint venture document in collaboration with solar thermal panels, wind turbines and photovoltaics help
developers and the city of Malmö prior to land transfers, the minimise energy use while maintaining the overall integrity of the
shared goals and vision of the Quality Programme was critical architectural and urban form. Bo01 residents are encouraged
for Bo01’s success”, explains Eva Dalman, Architect with Malmö to regularly monitor their energy consumption using information
Stadsbyggnadskontor. technology installed in their homes.

Its design outcomes include a street grid distorted to gain shelter ‘There were no sanctions or incentives for producing
from wind. Five-storey blocks front the sea, further protecting good technical solutions… the signing of the agreement
inner buildings while reinforcing the character of the sea-front was a moral commitment on the part of developers’
promenade. Varied forms of on-plot vegetation such as green Tor Fossum, city of Malmö, environmental department,
walls and roofs reduce surface water and create identifiable environmental strategy unit on the implementation of the
locations within the development. An advanced sustainable Quality Programme.
urban drainage system creates an ecological, recreational

Five-storey apartment buildings along the seafront at Bo01 respond to their microclimate by creating sheltered public spaces and protecting
inner buildings with their critical mass.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 67

Combining environmental standards and innovative design
Oxley Woods, Milton Keynes

The Design for Manufacture competition challenged the

development industry to build high-quality sustainable
homes to a construction cost of £60,000 or £784 per m2.
Within the strict cost parameters, homes were required to
meet all of English Partnerships’ Quality Standards, whilst
creating successful neighbourhoods that maximise the
potential of each site.

Consortia were encouraged to develop construction efficiencies

by working collaboratively with all the key players in the
supply chain in order to maximise the potential quality and
environmental performance of new homes. The competition’s
success is reflected through the quality of homes currently under

At Oxley Woods, Milton Keynes, Taylor Wimpey with the Richard

Rogers Partnerships are delivering 145 innovative and imaginative
homes which demonstrate that rigorous environmental and quality
standards can help generate an exciting urban design response;
creating homes that function well internally and contribute
positively to the surrounding streetscape.

The homes have been conceived with two distinct zones, services
and living spaces. Walls, floors, ceilings, stairs, heating and
ventilation systems are all prefabricated in a controlled factory
environment, reducing on-site construction costs whilst ensuring
the quality of the finished product.

Homes are designed to maximise ‘free’ features such as volume

and light. An ‘Ecohat’ acts as a new generation chimney stack,
creating interest to the streetscape, whilst filtering fresh air and
recirculating hot air. The ‘Ecohat’ can easily be adapted to
incorporate photovoltaics and solar hot water, achieving a 50%
reduction in carbon emissions.

The Education Centre at Oxley Woods explains the social,

economic and environmental advantages of the homes, helping to
raise the understanding and aspirations of potential homeowners,
and act as a practical demonstration to other housebuilders – how
to achieve design quality and high environmental standards within
reasonable construction costs.

‘We’re proud of what we have come up with. By taking an

exciting step outside our comfort zone, we’ve also taken
house building a big step forward.’ Ian Sutcliffe,
Chief Executive, Taylor Wimpey

Designs for homes at Oxley Woods, Milton Keynes have shown how rigorous environmental standards can help to generate exciting designs through off-site
prefabrication, reduced on-site construction costs and features such as an ‘Ecohat’ for ventilation, photovoltaics and solar thermal heating.

68 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

The public realm Buildings 028 029 030

• Albedo – A material with a high albedo, such as a • Passive solar – Opportunities for passive solar
light-coloured or polished surface, reflects radiant design should always be considered before other
heat, while one with a low albedo absorbs it. The energy sources. Sunlight comes free, with no
colour and texture of buildings and ground cover carbon emissions. The amount of heat gained
can be used to control how much radiant heat from sunlight is calculated in degree-days over the
is reflected. Hard landscape materials such as heating period. Even dull days contribute to heating
concrete (high albedo) become uncomfortably hot spaces. With legislation requiring increasingly high
in summer. Mown grass (low albedo) absorbs heat building insulation standards, passive solar design
into the ground, cooling a layer of air a few inches can provide so much energy that only minimal
immediately above the surface. Walls will be warmer supplementary space heating is needed.
in winter if they face east or west rather than directly Masterplans which create streets within 30 degrees
south, receiving a greater amount of direct radiation of an east-west orientation create plots suitable for
due to the low angle of the morning or afternoon sun. passive solar architecture, with heat gains on front
• Wind – Warm summer winds can be exploited and rear elevations. North-south orientated streets
by aligning streets with their prevalent direction. are more suitable for detached buildings, or where
Recurrent storm winds from another direction can be storey heights change, allowing solar access to
minimised by aligning streets across them. A wind south-facing walls.
rose, indicating prevailing wind conditions, is a useful • Thermal mass – Buildings constructed of massive
design tool. materials have the ability to store heat on a hot day,
• Sunlight – In temperate climates people generally cooling the air, and releasing heat to warm the air at
prefer to walk on the sunny side of the street. night. Conversely, developments with a low thermal
However, global warming and increasingly hot capacity exaggerate extremes of temperature.
summers may now require us to plant street trees to High winds greatly increase heat loss from buildings.
provide shelter from summer sun. If summer shade is It has been estimated that when the temperature
required, this might be best provided by deciduous is around freezing, reducing a wind from 12mph to
trees which are able to provide shade by virtue of 30mph would halve the heat loss from a building in
their summer foliage, and yet allow sunlight to filter the wind’s path. High-rise buildings, with no shelter,
through their branches in winter. suffer extreme exposure.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 69

2.2.3 Energy Cogeneration

Cogeneration is the production of electrical energy and
Energy supply strategy another form of useful thermal energy (such as heat or
An energy supply strategy should be formulated for all new steam) from the same source (either a fuel or waste heat). It
development and, where possible, renewal programmes is also called combined heat and power (CHP) or combined
before masterplanning begins. New methods of energy heat, chilling and power (CHCP). The UK has one of the
production based on local supply have implications for lowest level of community heating proportionate to the
urban form. domestic heating market in Europe. Local area energy
supply using cogeneration achieves considerable savings
Developments should be founded on energy supply systems in carbon dioxide emissions (typically 25 per cent) often
designed to meet demand from low-carbon (efficient by using waste heat which is otherwise lost at a central
and renewable) sources. As well as preventing wastage power station as illustrated in the diagram on page 73.
in transmission, these local energy systems can also be Over the lifetime of the equipment cogeneration will be one
more easily upgraded to the state of the art, as technology of the most cost-effective ways to reduce carbon dioxide
develops. emissions.
If an energy service company (ESCO) or multi-utility A local area supply system will be much more future-proof
services company (MUSCO) is to be established, this should than current dwelling-based systems. As fuel availability and
be decided at an early design stage. The company will need pricing change, the systems can be amended by converting
to be involved in discussions about how the services will be a single plant room rather than several thousand boilers.
integrated into the scheme.
The best value CHP uses electricity on site, replacing the
consumer electricity price and commanding a much higher
value then energy generated remotely. Within the current
UK regulatory regime, this requires the creation of private
wire networks.

Carbon offset and power generation by wind turbines

70 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Creating energy efficiency on smaller sites
Selwyn Street, Coppice, Oldham

Selwyn Street, a part of the Oldham Rochdale which are topped up by condensing gas boilers when required.
Housing Market Pathfinder Project, demonstrates how It is estimated that this will provide 90% of hot water in summer
environmental principles can be applied to smaller sites. and 60% in winter, reducing average energy bills by up to 60%.
A development of 18 new terraced homes, the layout Wind turbines have been positioned on roofs of higher houses
of the site and architecture seek to modify their and provide up to 1kw of power. Water butts are installed in back
microclimate. gardens for rainwater collection.

Terraces are formed to avoid overshadowing in rear gardens. Selwyn Street has also successfully adapted the street pattern
Monopitched roofs are designed to face southeast, of the 19th century and addressed the changing demographics
perpendicular to the main orientation of the buildings, to of the area by replacing houses and flats built in the mid 1980s
maximize the potential of attached solar panels. The solar with larger family homes. It has effectively reversed problems of
thermal panels are connected directly to all hot water tanks, accessibility, security and low rate of rentals faced by the area.

Terraces along Selwyn Street are orientated to avoid overshadowing in rear gardens and monopitched roofs are designed to
face south east to maximise solar gain.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 71

Engaging the street with environmental design
Rowan Road, Merton

There is a common misconception that a conflict exists is maximized by the PV roof’s independence from the building
between the principles of good urban design as set form, setting them apart by the introduction of a roof terrace
out in UDC1 and an optimal approach to environmental below. This enables solar orientation to be optomised whilst
sustainability in terms of orientation, size of windows, building fronts engage with the street as required to provide
materials or visual attractiveness. strong frontages and urban spaces.

Crest Nicholson, Kingspan and Sheppard Robson Architects The innovative design of the roof lantern to many of the homes
came together as consortia in the Design for Manufacture allows natural day lighting and ventilation to the centre of the
competition to explore ways of delivering high quality, dwelling. The day lighting achieved through the lantern means
environmentally sustainable homes, in unique and identifiable that south-facing windows can be rationalised, reducing solar
places. heat gain without detriment to the internal space. The facades
have been adapted, utilising ‘pushed out’ bays on the north
The consortia secured three of the 10 competition sites, gaining
and east facades to maximise winter sun and ‘pushed in’
a better understanding of the potential of their product and its
bays on the south and west for shade. This helps create visual
contribution to place-making with each response. At Rowan
interest and variety to the street.
Road, Merton, their innovative proposals clearly illustrate how
homes can be designed to high environmental performance, Connectivity between the occupied open-plan space, the
with maximum internal comfort, whilst contributing positively to stairwell and the roof lantern during the day ensures optimum
the streetscape. ventilation in warm, still, summer conditions. The inherent
qualities of the roof lantern mean that housing types can be
Many of the homes incorporate photovoltaic (PV) panels that
used at any orientation across a site with no negative effect on
partially form the roof structure. The efficiency of the PV panels
the internal day lighting and passive environmental system.

Environmental strategies at Rowan Road are incorporated into the building design.

72 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

losses (50 units) Wind

Wind can be converted to zero-carbon electricity using
wind turbines. These are available at a huge variety of
scales, relatively cost-effectively. Wind speeds vary
Primary fuel Electricity Generation greatly, however, so turbines need careful placement.
80 units 35% Efficiency Computer programs can assess open countryside as
30 units of electricity a wind resource, and methods are in development for
similar assessment of urban areas.
The height of turbines has a large impact on wind speed:
generally the higher the better as illustrated in the
Primary Heat Generation 50 units of heat diagram. This must be balanced against the visual impact.
fuel 60 85% Efficiency
units Smaller turbines on and near buildings must be correctly
located to take advantage of building height and the
speed-up effect over buildings. Here turbulence means
losses (10 units)
that vertical-axis turbines are expected to outperform
conventional types.
Conventional Energy Network
losses 26 units Biomass is considered to be low carbon if new plant
matter is growing in place of that harvested, absorbing
its carbon dioxide. Most biomass used at present comes
from waste streams (waste and low-value wood and
30 units of electricity
Primary Total efficiency sawdust, and agricultural waste streams).
fuel 96 86%
While a biomass unit (pellet or wood stoves, or boilers)
50 units of heat
can be installed in each house in a development, it will
probably be more cost-effective to build a community
heating distribution system. Ideally, the plant should be
Community heating and CHP centrally located to diminish the potential for heat loss in
the distribution network. This location also allows for the
CHP produces the same amount of energy from less resources choice between radial and closed loop layouts.
Fuel will need to be stored near the energy centre or
Renewable energy sources plant room. Fuel storage volumes will depend on the
There is a variety of renewable energy sources which can be type of fuel and the number of deliveries that are
used where appropriate, and often in combination. These, acceptable. For example, a community of 3,000 homes
and their implications for urban form, are summarised below. (each 80m2) receiving weekly fuel deliveries will require
1,100m3 of wood chips or 300m3 of wood pellets to be
Energy from waste stored. Consideration should be given to the need for
Energy recovery from waste provides a double benefit. vehicle movements and the potential air quality effect
Waste is diverted from landfill and the recovery of energy of chimneys.
can displace fossil fuel alternatives. A variety of technologies
are now being commercialised. Landfill gas is widespread
and proven. New gasification and pyrolysis technologies
offer high conversion rates and very low emissions.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 73

Solar thermal and solar photovoltaic

Technology For optimum efficiency solar thermal and solar
photovoltaic technologies require roofs facing between
southeast or southwest, and a 10-40 degree slope. But
they can also be installed on flat roofs and facades, with
a drop in output of 10 per cent. The orientation of roofs
should therefore not be the main determinant of site
layout. Imaginative thinking on varying roof and porch
Street or block

angles can often provide alternative locations. Four

square metres of solar thermal panels will typically provide

50-60 per cent of the hot water demand over the year.

Between 25-35m2 of high-efficiency photovoltaics will


meet a typical home’s annual electricity demand.

Cogeneration (CHP) Ground source energy

Energy from waste Ground source energy uses the earth’s temperature
Wind turbines stability at around 12-140C and heat pumps to produce
usable heat. The pumps either operate from boreholes
Biomass drilled in the ground or from trenched systems. Heat
Solar thermal pumps require electricity, so the amount of carbon
Photovoltaic emissions saved will depend on the source of the
Ground source energy
Sustainable Urban Drainage (SUDS)
Both borehole and aquifer heating and cooling systems
work by absorbing coolness from one side of the system
Grey water recycling and depositing heat on the other side in summer. The
Waste separation and collection process is reverted in winter to reuse that heat. In low-
Piped refuse systems density areas, heat pumps will use coils laid in gardens in
two metre deep trenches. In higher-density construction,
piles can be used to reach the ground heat.
Unsuitable Possible at this Suitable at Aquifer cooling and heating is only feasible in areas with
at this scale scale dependent this scale
on location, layout ground water resources. It offers high efficiencies and
and resources has low space requirements. Capital costs are high but
there is good payback. It is ideal for large, mixed-use
Table 2.2 Appropriate technologies – what works where developments with high cooling loads.

74 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Designing a SUDS scheme
Upton, Northampton

Dealing effectively with water was a key priority for storage volume. Where possible, swales were aligned parallel
the urban extension at Upton following the floods in to contour lines to maximise storage and surface area for
Northampton in 1998. English Partnerships recognised infiltration. Where this was not possible, they were aligned to
the importance of implementing a SUDS scheme early follow the slope and weirs were designed at intervals to retain
in the design process to control surface water runoff at the surface water, increase storage volume and also enable
source. The strategy was to limit and control surface easy maintenance.
water runoff through:
The drainage schemes have enhanced the high quality open
• Water butts, green roofs and permeable paving within green spaces provided with the swale and pond network
courtyards, with restricted discharge into the public surface providing green fingers extending from the country park into
water drainage system the public realm, enhancing the local biodiversity.

• A pipe and swale system that provide attenuation and Health and safety has been a prioritisation, with early and
transfer of surface water through the system continuous involvement of the Planning Supervisor during the
design process. A management strategy of improving public
• Linked storage ponds constructed at the end of the system,
awareness and understanding of the risks of surface water
around playing fields, prior to controlled discharge
within the public realm has been implemented, rather than
The site’s relatively steep gradient (approximately 1:30) erecting impenetrable barriers across the site.
presented a challenge in terms of creation and utilisation of

The biodiversity and the public realm at Upton have been enhanced through the use of a series of ponds and swales that extend green space from the
countryside into development.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 75

2.2.4 Water needed. It is currently doubtful whether grey water systems

are currently viable at the scale of an individual building.
Rainwater 031 However, neighbourhood scale local treatment of grey water
The increasingly frequent heavy rains caused by climate for use in landscape is straightforward.
change pose a challenge for drainage and floodwater
management systems. With climate change also making 2.2.5 Waste
summer droughts more frequent, it is more important to use
water efficiently and recycle it. The use of sustainable Separation and collection systems
urban drainage systems (SUDS) and natural bodies of Waste separation and collection systems are essential
water bodies can attenuate water runoff into rivers to allow the higher rates of recycling that are now being
while also benefiting biodiversity. targeted by government and local authorities. The space
and organisation needed for this (at the scale of both the
When designing SUDS consideration should be given
home and the street) need careful thought.
to how site topography can be utilised to maximum
effectiveness, how the SUDS can enhance landscape
Piped refuse systems
design and how maintenance requirements are integrated
The use of piped underground refuse collections systems
into design.
can have a major impact on the design of a development. It
Green roofs can also help to manage rainwater. They can removes the need to store refuse in bins and for dustcarts
also bring benefits of reducing building heat loss in winter to enter neighbourhoods to collect most of the waste.
and heat gain in summer, reducing air pollution and creating They can serve entire neighbourhoods, sorting various
habitats. categories of waste using a common underground duct
which can be transferred direct to a combined heat and
Grey water power facility. Such systems have been used in several
Grey water systems can involve using waste water from countries throughout Europe. They are economical to install
baths, showers and hand-basins for flushing toilets, and in new residential areas at densities above 30 dwellings per
using surface water from roofs for watering communal hectare and are also being installed in dense city centres to
gardens. Filtration and disinfection mechanisms will be eliminate the need for dustcarts.


1. Sustainable design involves looking at issues to modify microclimate.
more widely than just bolt-on technologies 3. The use and management of resources must
2. Urban design and sustainability considerations inform the design process.
are not new. Buildings have always been required

1. Building a Greener Future: Towards Zero Carbon Development. 2006. CLG

76 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk


2.3.1 Locating uses

2.3.2 Mixed-use centres
2.3.3 Making mixed-use centres work
2.3.4 Employment in mixed-use areas

Cities formed to allow a variety of people to come be central, but if it is not well connected it will not have high
together to trade, to meet and to interact. Good urban footfall unless a ‘destination’ attraction is contrived. Other
design creates an environment that attracts a variety uses will gravitate to locations that are less well connected.
of users to interact with a variety of uses in a vibrant These might include some residential development which
place that is successful socially, economically and seeks to offer seclusion.
Multi-use centres
A stream of different users throughout the day and
Multi-use centres must be easily accessible and served by
evening help to make bustling, diverse, safe places.
well-designed public spaces. To achieve this they should be:
Locating a mix of uses within a neighbourhood can
promote sustainability through encouraging walking • At the junctions of movement routes, or on a route to
to shops and facilities, providing a critical mass of another destination
customers for local businesses, creating opportunities • Served by public transport
for people to work locally, and making places for a wide
• Orientated towards the street and visible from it
range of people to participate in activities and meet each
other. • Easy to access and pleasant to use
• Adjacent to a community facilities, if possible
Mixed-use neighbourhoods have become the default,
and city centre living has become acceptable and • Convenient for parking, unless in a city centre
desirable. Despite this, there remains a need for a wider location
understanding of how mixed-use developments can be
Multi-functional neighbourhoods
designed, promoted and managed effectively. To be
Most neighbourhoods will need a residential component if
successful, mixed-use centres must be in the right place,
they are to be safe and secure throughout a 24 hour day.
with the right connections. They should be designed in
Other uses are overlaid on this residential base and, in
the light of the needs of all users in accessing and using
central locations, may dominate. Districts may therefore be
the services. Flexibility of use should be built in so that
characterised by uses such as shopping, local services,
buildings can adapt as needs change. 032
business or entertainment but also need to function as
These principles apply at a range of scales from mixed- residential communities.
use buildings and neighbourhood centres to multi-
The uses within a neighbourhood are layered. The best
functional landscapes.
urban design interventions identify and foster the different
layers at which the neighbourhood works. We need to
2.3.1 Locating uses
identify uses which are complementary and those which
may have contrasting needs, and locate them in the most
Movement and land use 033
appropriate locations.
Traditionally, towns and villages evolved at the most
accessible locations such as river crossings and road
Multi-functional landscapes
junctions. Their form was often dictated by the dominant
Landscapes can simultaneously serve a number of
route. When designing new places, we should locate uses
functions which may benefit from their overlap. A landscape
which require the most footfall (such as retail) in locations
may provide habitats, resources such as water or food
which are the best connected to the surrounding street
production, and recreational amenity.
structure. Connectivity is different to centrality. A site may

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 77

2.3.2 Mixed-use centres turnover for the first few years, might be cross-funded from
the enhanced values of surrounding residential or office
Community facilities development. Specific occupiers might be targeted to kick-
Try and establish meeting places for the community at start a centre.
the heart of the scheme, preferably at an early stage. Essential facilities may need to be secured by section 106
Where the residential population is growing, temporary agreements which require the developer to provide them
accommodation might be provided, such as a small at agreed trigger points such as building completion.
shop unit, which could revert to its intended use as the There are, however, major benefits for both developer and
neighbourhood grows. community in promoting mixed uses. Planning obligations
should be seen as only part of the solution.
Convenience shops and services
Special consideration is needed to deliver mixed-use Buildings with flexible uses 034
centres in new neighbourhoods where phasing and Live-work units which permit business or residential uses on
investment on return need to be addressed. Residential the ground floor may help to accommodate mixed uses at a
density needs to be appropriate to make mixed uses later stage if there is sufficient demand initially. This avoids
viable. Table 2.3 sets out thresholds for viability for key the risk that ground floor commercial spaces may remain
facilities. Convenience shops and services require sufficient empty. A solution is to design townhouses with first floor
population within a five to ten minute walk (400 to 800 living rooms and ground floors which have planning consent
metres). Residential areas can support a significant floor for both residential and business use. Provided that the
area of convenience goods and services. Every effort ground floor is designed so that residential or commercial
should be made to retain as many of these uses as possible uses can be accommodated equally well, the scheme will
within the neighbourhood. This can be aided by ensuring retain the capacity for ground floors to switch to commercial
that densities are compact, the quality of the services, and use over time as the centre becomes established and
both the quality and convenience of the built environment, footfall rises. Design considerations include:
are right.
• Floor-to-ceiling heights above three metres at
The provision of a mixed-use centre can reduce car use ground level
and make it possible to provide live/work homes in the
immediate area. • Generous unit sizes, with flexible floor plates
• Construction systems that allow larger window and
2.3.3 Making mixed-use centres work door openings to be inserted at a later date
• Threshold relationships that allow visual openness or
In a new neighbourhood, the range of facilities ultimately
privacy depending on the dominant use
needed is unlikely to be viable at the early stages of
the project. Here it will be necessary to consider how Buildings designed to fit a wide range of uses are likely to
a mixed-use centre can begin to be provided early on. have a longer lifespan as they provide opportunities for
Avoid leaving premises empty and plan for both short- and incremental renewal. If flexible planning permissions are
long-term occupation. Increasing the number of facilities secured for these properties, the live-work designation can
or opportunities available and accessible to potential be sold as a positive attribute of the property, not as
occupiers or users in a new development will increase how a constraint.
they perceive the quality of life that the place offers. A high- Centres should be designed to be adaptable to
quality environment will enhance property values and may changing demands. Flexible buildings will be capable of
lead to the place becoming a destination attracting people accommodating different uses over time.
from outside the area. They, in turn, will make the mixed
uses increasingly viable.
Linking uses
Think about which uses depend on others. For example,
Rentals and cross-funding a doctors’ surgery may make a pharmacy feasible, or a
An initial financial appraisal may suggest eliminating low primary school may attract a nursery school. Developments
or non-revenue producing uses to increase profitability. may point to the opportunity for a specialist cluster of
However, providing facilities such as convenience activities that are independent yet related, benefiting from
shops, services and cafés can considerably increase the close proximity to one another or sharing facilities. Such
attractiveness of a location. The cost of including small uses may be encouraged by providing the shared amenities
commercial units at low rentals, or with rentals related to and the opportunity to interact.

78 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Creating a new mixed-use neighbourhood

The masterplan aims to create a new piece of town at the Devonport, to ensure that they benefit from high visibility and
heart of Devonport with places to live, work, shop and passing trade. The housing is set one block back in quieter, less
relax in a high quality, attractive neighbourhood that is trafficked streets with on-street parking and a new, public park
easy to walk around. overlooked by new homes. The market and affordable housing
is mixed and is indistinguishable from the street and 60% of the
The plan uses perimeter blocks to separate public space
homes are houses with gardens whilst the rest are flats. The plan
from private space, and well connected streets to link the
also incorporates the important listed Market Hall with a high
development back into the urban structure of the rest of
quality new square to improve its setting, and includes managed
Devonport. The plan, created with extensive engagement
workspace units for local employment and an Extra Care facility
with local people, positions most of the mixed uses, including
with over 40 bedrooms.
offices, shops, and a police station, along the main road through

Residential – flats

Residential – houses



Public open space

Principal public spaces


Market building: future

uses may include pub/
restaurant, heritage/
cultural or employment

The masterplan for South Yard Enclave in Devonport, successfully combines over 450 high-quality homes, a community healthcare centre, new supermarket
and shops, public open space, offices, managed workspace and the retention of the historic Market Hall.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 79

Revitalising a village centre

Many people in the UK perceive the village typology, with of public objection. New golf facilities and a number of new
moderate densities and scale, mixed use and easy access housing projects of an appropriate scale, character and quality
to countryside to represent the potential for the highest were approved. One developer, Bell Meadow Pulford Ltd, have
quality of life. Often however this is a romanticised successfully redeveloped the fading commercial centre in this
view, as competition from neighbouring towns and conservation area.
their inevitable supermarkets force traditional facilities
The range and diversity of styles, and the quality of materials
and amenities to close down in villages leaving few
and detailing, have created an environment that is both
opportunities to interact and meet your neighbours.
authentic and carefully considered across the 82 homes and
Tarporley in Cheshire grew up along the A49, the main route seven commercial premises. A mix of housing opportunities
through the county to London, and developed a rich tapestry of ranging from two bed duplex apartments over retail units to five
facilities in a linear form along its high street. Like many similar bed roomed detached homes has helped sustain village life
villages and small towns, its bypass in the late 1980s improved and increase the local population.
travel times and road safety, and in doing so removed passing
The success of revitalising the village centre has helped
trade, making many of its businesses unviable heralding a
sustain original facilities such as independent clothes shops,
significant decline in the quality and number of amenities in
butchers and bakers, and attract new facilities such as coffee
the village.
shops and restaurants making Tarporley a destination village
From the 1990s on, Vale Royal Council took the brave move and one of the most desirable locations to live in Cheshire.
of permitting new development in the village, often in the face

New development in Tarporley has helped to sustain independent retailers and attract new investment to the village.

80 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Creating buildings for flexible use
Allerton Bywater Millennium Community

The Millennium Community at Allerton Bywater has The design code sets out a number of specific building
been designed to provide opportunities for a mix of both typologies including one which marries a three storey townhouse
uses and users whilst appreciating the limitations in facing public open space with an atelier unit to the rear facing
demand for mixed use due to the rural/village location onto the homezone. The atelier may house a garage, cycle
and the modest 520 new homes proposed. parking, refuse and includes a flexible space on the first floor
which can be used as a playroom, office, gym or workshop
The new development on a former coalfield site aims to stitch
depending on the needs of the residents. The atelier typology
the community back together by bringing existing buildings
plays a similar role as a Georgian mews, and provides natural
back into use as community facilities and by providing flexible
surveillance to car parking areas. These units have proved so
new building typologies that can be adapted for use to reflect
successful that Miller Homes are revisiting their standard house
changing social and economic trends as the neighbourhood
types to include the Millennium Community homes as part of
grows and evolves.
their portfolio.
A range of approaches have been taken to encourage flexible
The development also provides 16 award winning workspace
living and foster opportunities for employment and enterprise.
units (all fully let and operational), live-work units at ground level
Buildings fronting the village square have been designed with
and areas for future office/employment use, all within a compact
high floor to ceiling heights, and flexible floor plates to allow
well connected urban form.
easy adaptation for commercial uses as demand increases.

Buildings fronting the village square at Allerton Bywater Millennium Community have been designed with high floor to ceiling heights for easy
adaption to commercial uses and atelier units provide flexible living space.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 81

Illustrative catchments

Indicative site area

Uses and facilities

based on number

of people
Adequate parking spaces are likely to be necessary
to make a mixed-use centre work. The amount of land

allocated to parking can be minimised by sharing parking
between business and shopping (mostly in the daytime)
and residential (full allocation needed in the evening). EDUCATION
Parking should be convenient, but should not be allowed to Nursery school 2,000 0.5
dominate the street. Well designed, on-street parking which
is integrated to the street and broken up with landscape Primary school (two-form entry) 4,000 0.9
and street furniture can help encourage use of the street
and liveliness at all times of the day. Pedestrian-only streets
can be underused and may be perceived as being unsafe in Doctors’ surgery 4,000 0.08
some locations. Pharmacy 5,000 0.01
Community centre 4,000 1
Put the sales and marketing strategy in place early in the RETAIL
project. Make early contact with traders and operators,
Neighbourhood centre 0.15
and ensure that appropriate maintenance regimes are in
place. Mixed-use developments should sell the concept Local centre 0.07
and benefits of the lifestyle they are proposing and the high Pub 6,000 0.06
quality of life envisaged. Setting the scene for this lifestyle
Post office 5,000 0.06
by providing facilities at an early stage may enhance long-
term value. Sport or leisure centre 24,000 1.00

Reserving sites
Where ownership permits, sites may need to be reserved for Bus interchange 0.07
specific future uses to ensure the right mix. They should be Station development 0.07
located where they will not leave a gap, if possible. In some
cases it may be possible for buildings simply to change use Table 2.3 Thresholds for viability
over time.
time. Assuming an equivalent B1 gross floorspace of
2.3.4 Employment in mixed-use areas 20m2 per worker, and a plot ratio of 0.4, this is equivalent
to an employment site of about a 0.5 ha. In view of current
The majority of employment in mixed-use areas will be trends for more flexible working patterns, this is a
in offices and commercial outlets which can be located conservative estimate.
within mixed-use buildings or adjacent to other uses. But
with careful design, even some types of factory can be Mixed-use buildings 035
accommodated in primarily residential areas. Mixed-use buildings or blocks can bring vitality and so
raise values on certain sites. Considerations in fine-grained,
Work from home mixed-use development include:
In some industries, information technology has made home
working possible. Increasing numbers of people work from • Potential for shared facilities, including parking
home either full-time or for part of the week. In determining • The need for a high quality public realm and effective
the amount of employment land provided by working from management of those spaces
home, the following equivalent land calculation should • Managing the needs of different users
be used.
Buildings are having to work harder to be profitable and,
If five per cent of homes are true live-work units and a further on central sites, mixed-uses in plan, mixed-uses in section
10 per cent facilitate working from home for two days a and more flexible terms of tenure can make for development
week, the average number of people working from such a which is both responsive to market conditions and raises
residential area will be 90 per 1,000 households at any one values by creating a more diverse and stimulating location.

82 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Mixing uses within a building
Oxo Tower Wharf, London

Oxo Tower Wharf, a successful mixed-use building

on South Bank, demonstrates how potential conflicts
between different users can be minimised through

The 15,000m2 Oxo Tower Wharf is home to shops, cafés,

craft workshops/retail spaces, an exhibition/event space, 78
homes for Coin Street Secondary Housing Association and
two successful restaurants. The challenge was to minimise
potential conflicts between these different user groups
and ensure successful co-existence of residential tenants,
workshop owners/users and the many visitors. This was
achieved through building layout, distribution of uses and
access and servicing strategies.

The lower two levels, house shops, cafés and craft workshops/
retail spaces. The ground floor also includes the Coin Street
Exhibition and a gallery. On the second floor are a food court
and 33 further designer workshops. The residential area above
consists of five floors and enjoys its own entrance, lifts and
parking. The rooftop, also designed to be accessible by
all for public viewing, is home to the Oxo Tower Restaurant,
Bar and Brasserie.

Creation of three 10-storey cores – a new main core directly

below the Oxo Tower and two secondary cores at each end
of the building – were critical for managing circulation and
services, and reinforcing the visual organisation of the building.

“It’s not an irony that the restaurants are there… Any

strategy that is sustainable has got to have something
which brings in money and recycles it – it’s a Robin
Hood approach!”

Ian Tuckett, Executive Director, Coin Street Community Builders,

explains the economic strategy behind Oxo Tower’s success
in his interview with journalist Andrew Bibby. Oxo Tower was
developed by CSCB independently (instead of a joint venture),
to ensure continued control over its commercial lettings.

The Oxo Tower Wharf successfully blends residential, commercial, workspaces

and offices on London’s South Bank.


1. A mix of uses is required to make successful places.
2. A mix of uses will attract a mix of users to contribute to vitality.
3. Buildings and streets must be adaptable.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 83


2.4.1 Density and quality

2.4.2 Density and built-form
2.4.3 Measuring density
2.4.4 Determining appropriate densities
2.4.5 Density and time

Building at higher densities not only makes more • Economy – The development can make local
efficient use of land but can also deliver higher quality. business more viable.
Decisions on what density levels are appropriate for a • Social – Passive surveillance and opportunities for
location can be biased by negative perceptions. Some social use of public spaces are improved.
people imagine high density as being tall buildings • Energy – There are opportunities for more efficient
crammed with small apartments which fail to relate to form of energy supply, including local generation and
the local context. A greater understanding is required distribution networks.
of how, with careful planning and good design, higher- • Landscape – Countryside is retained and new
density schemes can create successful places with a landscape open space can be provided.
range of housing types, good space standards and an
Densities of 50 dwellings per hectare (dph) or more have
attractive public realm.
been found to support local services and make low carbon
Many villages and market towns are widely seen as local energy provision more viable. This figure is below that
attractive places in which to live, yet have a compact for high density in the Urban Design Compendium and East
form and relatively high density. This form and density Thames Gateway Higher Density Toolkit1 (both 70dph) and
provides support for shops, services and amenities. London Housing Federation’s Higher Density Housing for
Families: a design and specification guide2 (80dph). 036
Good design will establish densities which are
appropriate for each particular location.
2.4.2 Density and built-form
2.4.1 Density and quality
Perceptions of density 037
Density is just one aspect of built form. Building height,
Making efficient use of land
block size and building typology will all affect the character
The efficient use of land is an important objective in
of an area and the perceptions of density.
making development more sustainable. It is embedded in
government policy. Compact development not only uses Height does not necessarily increase density. High buildings
less land, but it also has the potential to create efficiencies can be less efficient in terms of the ratio of net to gross
in the use of other resources, including energy supply and areas. Nor does a building need to be tall to be a landmark.
transportation (see section 2.2). The contribution that a tall building makes to the look of the
street will depend on how it meets the ground.
Benefits of compact neighbourhoods
The compact design of neighbourhoods can bring a number Requirements of higher-density development
of qualitative benefits: Many schemes are perceived to be excessively dense
because they struggle to provide a comfortable environment
• Amenity – Higher densities support mixed uses and
or necessary amenity. To avoid this, higher-density schemes
can provide a balanced range of facilities within a
should pay particular consideration to the following:
5–10 minute walk.
• Housing – The stock can more easily provide a wider • Context – Density needs to be appropriate to
range of housing types and tenures. context. This does not mean that density should
always be the same as the surrounding area, but new
• Transportation – The development provides a
buildings need to respect their neighbours.
customer base for effective public transport, while
promoting cycling.

84 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Creating an attractive high-density development
Chatsworth Gardens, Morecambe

Lancaster City Council with English Partnerships difficult interaction between public and private space by taking
commissioned a development competition to most of the private space to roof terraces and creating a block
fundamentally improve the quality of the housing stock pattern of single aspect dwellings. Nearly all properties have a
in Morecambe’s West End, which suffered a complex set private courtyard which includes services, refuse, storage, and
of social issues, including a transient population, high cycle parking, leading to their own front door, spacious home
crime rates and benefit dependency based in buildings in and private roof terrace. All homes have an allocated on-street
multiple occupation; poor quality large properties formerly parking space viewed directly from adjacent, whilst two pocket
used as guesthouses. parks create a community focus and promote social interaction.

The project objective was to attract a new population of families The proposed 1.06ha scheme provides for 101 homes at 95dph
and aspiring single persons or couples who are needed to create including 31 two-bedroom houses, 39 three-bedroom houses,
a more balanced and sustainable community, and for the scheme 4 four-bedroom houses and 18 one-bedroom apartments. The
to act as a catalyst for further regeneration changing perceptions site is generally two storeys in height, with three-storey elements
of, and raising the aspirations of the local community. on the busier streets and a single five-storey dwelling as acting
as a landmark. An additional nine homes are proposed as
Places for People with Peter Barber Architects have responded
duplex live-work units. All homes achieve English Partnerships’
with an innovative solution to this seaside location, which works
Quality Standards and clearly indicate that high density does not
with the existing street network and tackles the sometimes
necessitate high rise.

Proposed low rise, high-density development at Chatsworth Gardens has created a strong sense of identity, generous space standards and innovate
ways of providing amenity areas on roof terraces and courtyards.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 85

• Design – Well designed housing and other buildings not, however, give useful information as to how dense a
with generous space standards and high-quality development will look. Apartments at 60dph may actually
materials. have a smaller built volume than larger houses at 30dph
• Quality of the public realm – A legible, convenient with related garaging. Using dwellings per hectare to
and stimulating public realm. identify different character areas on a masterplan is not,
by itself, reliable.
• Private outdoor space – or high-quality communal
space. Although it is usual to multiply housing numbers by an
• Parking – Accommodate adequate and appropriate occupancy rate (say between 2-2.2) to give a figure for the
car parking levels to meet the needs of the users size of local population, this is only a rule of thumb.
without dominating or detracting from the external
environment. Square metres per hectare
Measuring the amount of floorspace per hectare will indicate
• Management – Effective management, including
how efficiently land is being used and will give a much
the formation of residents’ groups as trusts or
better idea of the visual density of a development. While
associations in housing projects (see chapter 5).
dph indicates residential density, square metres per hectare
Space standards 038 reveals development intensity. For developers, it provides a
The size of a dwelling is one of the main factors in defining key measure of value, with floorspace multiplied by price per
who can live there and how they can use their home. square metre showing income generated.
Dwelling size often determines how comfortable people feel
within a space and how much privacy the home offers. Good Floor area ratio (FAR) or plot ratio
design and creative use of space can achieve both high Floor area ratio and plot ratio are the same. They express
quality and appropriate densities. the ratio between gross floor area and site area. They
indicate the intensity of land use and give some indication
Providing homes with adequate or generous space of massing volumes. Specifying minimum and maximum
standards does not conflict with providing appropriate values is sometimes useful in development coding.
densities. The UK currently has the lowest space standards
in Europe, with average homes at 76m2. Yet we also build Bedspaces per hectare
to some of the lowest densities in Europe. In comparison, This measure will theoretically provide a more reliable
the Georgian house achieved some of the highest densities estimate of catchment population in residential areas than
in the UK, while providing generous, flexible and adaptable dph. But it is an indicator of population capacity rather than
spaces.3 actual use, as some dwellings may be under-occupied.

2.4.3 Measuring density Habitable rooms per hectare

There are many ways of measuring density, each of which This provides a useful measure of the extent of the
provides different information. It is useful to understand what building stock in a given area and the efficiency of land
the differences are and what they can help to measure. The use. Both habitable room and bedspace densities will
most commonly used measures include: give an indication of resident populations and an accurate
calculation of population capacity. This can be helpful in
Dwellings per hectare (dph) calculating the likely demand for amenities and services
This is most commonly used measure by the planning such as public transport.
system and developers because it is easy to monitor,
with each house completion being registered. It does

86 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Changing perceptions about density
Visiting the Best Study Tours

In support of its campaign for better quality new housing (two, three, four and five-bedroom homes) which are mostly
design, the Civic Trust along with Design for Homes and detached. Densities that at the beginning of the day had been
English Partnerships, carried out a series of study trips deemed inappropriate by delegate for inner urban areas, were
for local planning authorities. looked on as acceptable for suburban areas by the end of
the tour.
The day tours which showed officers and members a range
of housing drawn from Building for Life case studies, aimed Delegates feedback demonstrated that ‘go see’ tours can have
to reverse some of the myths about high density housing and an immediate impact with many delegates having more positive
demonstrated how schemes across the country have delivered views on high density following their trip.
higher densities within successful places. The study trips were
‘This has opened my eyes to what high density can be
planned to help build councillors’ confidence and capacity in
with careful forward planning. Design is very important
determining planning applications for higher density housing.
– there is no space to ever blur mistakes and materials
One of the most popular schemes amongst members proved to need to be well thought out’ quote from delegate.
be Lacuna (58.5dph). A mixed use development of 260 homes

A study trip to Lacuna, West Malling, Kent helped local authorities to understand how to deliver high-density, successful places.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 87

Density and urban form – Wembley tall building study

This analysis by REAL shows how the same density can be
delivered by varying building height, block size and building
depth. In this example, the three-storey perimeter blocks
deliver the same density as the 22-storey (check) point
block (7,200m2 / ha).

Economy, health and pathology proposed approach to defining net site density. A
All of the above measures concern physical aspects net density includes only those areas for housing
which are under the direct influence of the urban designer. development and directly associated uses.
Forecasts of outcomes for new areas or surveys of existing
areas might include thematic density maps such as: PPS3 net density would normally include:
• Access roads within the site
• Children per hectare – Essential for calculating
• Private garden space
school provision but also as an indicator of the age
profile of an area. • Car parking areas
• Economically active people per hectare – An • Incidental open space and landscape
indicator of employment needs. Taken with other • Children’s play areas (where these are to be
factors it may also indicate economic success or provided)
PPS3 net density normally excludes:
• What measures to use: density profiles – A set of
• Major distributor roads
density dimensions is required to understand both
the density of built form and socio-economic issues. • Primary schools
Select appropriate measures of density for the issues • Open spaces serving a wider area
to hand. • Significant landscape buffer strips
• What areas to include – Planning Policy Statement
3 (PPS3)4 sets out the basis for measuring housing
density. It urges local authorities to adopt its

88 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Maintaining amenity and creating high density
Accordia, Cambridge

The residential scheme at Accordia, Cambridge sites highly legible. A rich mix of high-quality materials has been used.
378 new high-quality mixed-tenure homes at a density Brickwork and garage doors used in the affordable units match
of 47 dwellings per ha. Although local residents initially those of private housing. Large glazed openings have been used
opposed the proposals as overdevelopment, the throughout the development to provide views of the surrounding
successful extension of the character of the surrounding landscaped, high levels of daylight as well as a means of unifying
area and landscape has helped create a remarkable the different architectural parcels.
setting for this new development.
Most homes are designed to Lifetime Homes standard and
Individual villas, terraced houses and apartments are set amidst can therefore accommodate changing life patterns and future
large open areas and mature trees making this higher density needs. This adaptability is achieved through the adoption of
development feel unusually green. Generous open space for constructional techniques such as party walls with light steel
walking and play add to this character. frame infill and moveable partitions. Larger houses can be used
for ‘live/work’ with the addition of cabling or use of rooms above
A range of house types designed by three different architects
garages. Accordia also scores well in terms of construction
creates architectural variety. A clever play of height and massing
quality and building performance.
within the overall landscape structure has made the scheme

Large open areas, mature trees and generous open space standards help to make higher-density development at Accordia feel unusually green.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 89

Accommodating changing needs
Tattenhoe Park, Milton Keynes

A single generation can witness significant swings in divided, amalgamated or changed in use. This allows
terms of social and demographic trends. For homes to residents to adapt their dwellings over time as their families
be sustainable they must be capable of adapting to the grow and contract, or as their working requirements change.
various and changing needs of many generations of uses Homes should also be capable of responding to advances
and users. in technology.

At Tattenhoe, a proposed new neighbourhood on the edge of Super-flexible Homes enable and accommodate an incremental
Milton Keynes, the Milton Keynes Partnership has developed a increase in density (both persons per hectare and square meters
masterplan and design guidance which promotes the concept per hectare) of a neighbourhood. In view of this, amenities such
of Super-flexible Homes. Prospective developers shall be as parks and open spaces at Tattenhoe are provided such that
required to demonstrate how their proposed development they can cater to a larger population in the future.
can be used in different ways to meet different lifestyles and
The image below gives an indication of the principles being
changing circumstances.
promoted at Tattenhoe; it illustrates a concept developed by
New dwellings will need to illustrate how they are building on HTA Architects on behalf of Barratt Homes, for the Design
historic and emerging good practice to incorporate design for Manufacture competition. The proposal illustrates that by
features that make adaptations and extensions easier than in a avoiding load bearing walls within the centre of homes and
standard dwelling by either reducing cost or construction work using the full volume of the building envelope; homes have the
or both. potential to be either flexible free flowing spaces or sub-divided
to provide additional rooms as required.
A flexible approach to planning approvals is being developed
which shall allow buildings to be adapted, extended, sub-

Up to 30% of all dwellings across Tattenhoe Park, Milton Keynes will be designed as Super-flexible Homes to allow for easy extension or adaptation over time.

90 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

2.4.4 Determining appropriate densities • Density mix – If the site area is more than half
a hectare, density bands showing gradations of
Transects density (as opposed to a flat density across the site)
Deciding exactly what counts as high or low density is will be appropriate. The rationale for density bands
relative. It depends on location. The transect approach is based on street hierarchy (higher densities along
provide a useful context. principal routes and lower densities along tertiary or
minor routes); character areas and neighbourhood
A transect is a section drawn through a geographical area, centres (a centre on a confluence of routes is likely to
from centre to edge. The term was originally coined by be able to support higher densities). If the site area
ecologists. The tool has been usefully applied in urban is less than half a hectare, it will be appropriate to
design to examine changing urban characteristics from city select particular types of building appropriate for the
centre to edge of town. Few towns are concentric, so various scale of the proposed development, based on that of
transects for any town are likely to be different. adjoining areas.
Mapping density profiles against transects can provide a
useful insight into the characteristics of a town and help in
2.4.5 Density and time
setting density targets for new development.
Evolution 039
Factors which might determine an appropriate density Densities should not be fixed for all time. Development
include: should be planned to enable densities to change in
response to need. Cumulative densities change as
• Surrounding built form – Height massing
areas evolve and mature. This capacity for change and
overlooking tall buildings. A transect approach will
intensification should be built into both the masterplan and,
place higher densities in central locations and lower
where possible, the design and construction of individual
densities at the periphery.
• Capacity of facilities – The number of people
needed to make these work existing capacity Possible approaches include the concept of Lifetime Homes,
public realm. where design and construction allow for easy adaptation
to reflect users’ changing needs. Homes that allow
• Housing types – The masterplan is best placed
conversion or expansion (through the use of a loft space,
to determine the types of housing. Market
the reconfiguration of existing space to create different-
considerations can skew housing provision,
sized rooms, or an expansion at the rear, side or upward)
however. For example, small units are currently
are likely to be more responsive to changes in social and
most profitable.
demographic trends, and therefore be more sustained in
• Need for different types of housing – their use. The inclusion of flexible homes which may be
Sizes, tenures, types. subdivided will help to increase densities incrementally.


1 Higher densities can help to create successful 3 Higher density does not mean building smaller
places by supporting local businesses, services units. Generous space can be accommodated
and facilities. at higher densities through good design and a
2 Higher density does not mean building tall. Good creative use of volume, light and outdoor space.
design can enable higher densities to be achieved
using a range of building and layout types.

1. www.east-thames.co.uk/highdensity
2. Higher Density Housing for families: a design and specification guide.
2004 London Housing Federation
3. Unaffordable Housing, Fables and Myths. 2005. Policy Exchange
4. Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing. 2006. CLG

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 91


2.5.1 Designing the public realm

2.5.2 Detailing the public realm
2.5.3 Making streets work harder
2.5.4 Designing for sustainable transport options

As the Manual for Streets1 states, while roads • Activities bordering the space – Surrounding
are essentially ‘highways whose main function is land uses, plots widths and signs of life within the
accommodating the movement of motor traffic’, streets bordering buildings will affect how much life the
have several functions ‘of which the place function space attracts. The edges are usually the most
is the most important’. It is this place function that populated parts of a public space, as people seek
distinguishes streets from roads. Streets are not just for niches from which to view passing activities.
movement. The quality of this public realm can improve • Activities within the space – Spaces should be
our quality of life and increase our desire to spend time designed to accommodate a range of activities at
in these places. How successful the public realm is will different times of day or year.
depend on how it meets a wide variety of users’ needs
• Microclimate – People seek out places that are
and how it fits with the surrounding area.
sheltered from the wind and can offer the prospect of
Streets also have other functions, principally movement, sunshine with some shade for the hottest days.
access and parking. Movement plays an important • Scale – The scale needs to be appropriate to the
part in town centres. The traditional high street often intended function of the space. Bigger is not better.
accommodates cars, buses and parking, making uses Over-sizing will result in a dull place with insufficient
viable while providing an attractive and convenient activity.
public realm. Many major new developments have
• Proportion – The degree of containment will
applied lessons learned from the traditional high street
determine how well a space is defined. Any sense of
to plan new neighbourhoods around such movement
place will be lost if there is too little containment.
corridors, rather than promoting pedestrianised central
areas. • Objects within the space – Trees, changes in level
and public art provide places around which people
Urban design has a major role to play in ensuring that can congregate.
streets are able to deliver each of these functions
• Management – Public realm requires coordinated
management to ensure that quality is maintained and
places feel safe and secure (see section 5.1).
2.5.1 Designing the public realm
2.5.2 Detailing the public realm
Successful place-making 040 041
Particular attention has to be paid to ensuring that the public The detail of the public realm will have a significant
realm aspirations of a masterplan are successfully delivered. impact on the quality of the place. Effective coordination
The checks below will predict the qualities of a proposed is needed from the design stage through to delivery and
public space and whether it will be successful: maintenance. There are currently around 25 agencies in
the UK empowered to undertake works on streets, install
• Context – The position within the movement equipment or give approvals. The challenge is to ensure that
hierarchy will determine how intensively the space their requirements are met without the confusion and clutter
will be used. that can diminish the sense of place.

92 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Rejuvenating a public space
Trafalgar Square, London

Through careful research-based design the Trafalgar the National Gallery with the existing square, transforming it from
Square redevelopment has produced a highly successful a traffic island into a major urban space.
civic space.
After completion the square was soon incorporated into
The Trafalgar Square redevelopment is the first phase of Foster pedestrian movement patterns leading to an increase of 250% in
and Partners World Squares for All masterplan, the main stated pedestrian movements within the square itself, and an increase
aim of which is to reduce the conflict between people and cars. of 100% in local movements. There has also been a rise from
The design was based on extensive research and consultation, 1.3% to 9% in people who use the square as a through route.
including traffic and pedestrian movement studies, undertaken Londoner’s identification of the square as a destination has also
using Space Syntax’s pedestrian movement model. This changed whereas previously 1.9% saw Trafalgar Square as a
identified why both Londoners and tourists failed to use the destination this is now 17%. Since completion the square has
space and informed the development of design solutions. The hosted numerous public events including the Summer in the
closure to traffic of the northern edge of the square has linked Square programme and is now a notable public space within
London’s urban fabric.

The Trafalgar Square redevelopment has transformed an existing traffic island into a major urban public space with an increase in activity of 250%.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 93

Street furniture 2.5.3 Making streets work harder

Specification should ensure fitness of function, and
minimise clutter. It might also take advantage of sponsorship Streets used to accommodate a wide range of uses. In the
opportunities. Designers should liaise with bodies which will late 20th century priority was given to the movement and
be responsible for maintaining street furniture to ensure that parking of vehicles. Today we need to re-establish multi-
quality will not be compromised following future repairs. functional space appropriate to 21st century needs. This
rediscovery of the place function of the street is supported
Many of the items in the street can be dispensed with. by The Manual for Streets1 which advises that to create
Consider quality, not quantity. Essential items can be places that work for all members of the community, a street
grouped together. Signage and lighting, in particular, can should:
usually be tidied up by eliminating posts and columns.
Street lighting and street signs can be fixed to buildings, if • Help to build and strengthen the community it serves
this is planned in advance and appropriate legal covenants • Meet the needs of all users by embodying the
are in place before the building is sold. (See section 4.3) principles of inclusive design
• Form part of a well-connected network
Street trees • Be attractive and have its own distinctive identity
Street trees reduce wind speed, clean the air, improve
the street’s appearance and create habitats. With climate • Be cost-effective to construct and maintain
change, their contribution to shading the street will be • Be safe
increasingly valuable. Government-funded studies in the
UK and US have established the value of tree-lined streets. Multi-modal streets 042
They note that mature trees can add up to eighteen per Accessibility and ease of use are essential in persuading
cent to the value of housing2. Designers should work with and enabling people to take to walking, cycling and public
local authorities from an early stage to ensure that problems transport. Space must be allocated for various modes, and
relating to adoption can be overcome. for stops and stations.
Space for different modes should be provided within shared
Lighting corridors to make efficient use of space, provide choice,
A coordinated lighting strategy that works with both the and create activity along the streets. This will help to make
public realm and architecture can reduce clutter. Lighting streets safe. Stops and platforms can be ideal locations for
levels can be designed to correspond to the street hierarchy, small shops. The detailed design of the corridor should be
rather than being of uniform brightness. Avoid light pollution based on the character and hierarchy of the street.
but consider the role that architectural illumination on
important buildings can play in helping people to find their Multi-modal streets allow different modes to share the same
way around. corridor. But simply adding up lane-widths for each mode
can result in extremely wide, inhospitable streets. It may be
necessary to consider how different modes can share the
same space, perhaps at different times of day or on different
days of the week. For example, cars can be allowed into an
area during the evening or bus lanes can be operated at
peak travel times.

94 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Creating a successful civic space
Sheffield Peace Gardens

Civic gardens located in the right place at the heart of and thus adding to the space’s haven like nature. This change
Sheffield City Centre provide a successful green haven in level also aids both acoustic and visual separation from the
for city dwellers. surrounding roads.

Designed on the original site of the now demolished St Paul’s Artists were commissioned to produce works that would form
churchyard, the Peace Gardens have been redeveloped into a an integral part of the gardens and echo Sheffield’s cultural
popular and thriving destination. Its location at heart of the city, heritage of industry and craft. These pieces from stone, metal
surrounded by a mix of uses has given it the groundings for and ceramic, along with commissioned street furniture, provide
success. The adjacent Town Hall and Winter Gardens plus the people of all ages and abilities with places for congregation or
nearby Millennium Galleries also provide the Peace Gardens quiet reflection.
with much life and activity.
The Peace Gardens are part of Sheffield’s Heart of the City
Based on a comprehensive public consultation exercise the Project that comprises new urban spaces and new high-quality
gardens incorporate fountains, seating, lawns and planting architecture and have brought about a transformational change
all set around 1.5m below street level providing containment in the development of the city centre.

Changes in level to aid acoustic and visual separation from traffic and the use of local artists to create artworks that reflect local heritage and identity have
helped Sheffield Peace Gardens become a successful place.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 95

Street hierarchy speed limits. The design of the road layout, townscape and
When setting out street layouts and designing corridor landscape can reduce the disparity between the legal speed
sections, the following aspects of the movement and visual limit and the driver’s perceived safe limit. Physical design
hierarchy need to be considered: constraints and psychological considerations should be
taken into account.
Movement hierarchy
• Traffic volume Home Zones use both design speed and physical design
constraints to deliver truly multi-functional streets which give
• Number of dwellings served
equal priority to all users. See section 4.3 for more details.
• Type of vehicles accommodated
• Whether or not there is direct access to individual 2.5.4 Designing for sustainable transport options
Regional movement strategies provide the context for new
Visual hierarchy development to tie into existing public transport arteries.
• Scale (the distance between building fronts) Likely travel generation and modal split are not only
• Enclosure (as determined by building heights) congestion issues but are also critical for energy use and
carbon dioxide emissions.
• Carriageway and footpath widths
• Street trees which can subdivide a street into Density and mix will significantly influence the demand
different zones profile for different types of travel. A dedicated public
transport route, with a clear and legible space within the
The busiest and best connected streets do not necessarily
streetscape, and a clear and legible route connecting to
have the widest corridors. It is common for wide arterial
significant places, will ensure that the system (bus or tram)
routes to narrow where they become a high street. Street
can operate without congestion and will attract more users.
sections need to be appropriate to each segment of a
movement corridor.
Making transport routes clear
It is important to identify those streets whose key function The plan should make public transport routes clear to
is place rather than movement. This will include residential users, ideally following the upper levels of a street hierarchy.
areas and some high streets. For these areas, consideration However, the masterplan should build in flexibility to
should be given to how street design can enhance and accommodate potential changes in transport options in
promote the sense of place. the future. A shared corridor for different travel options can
enable this to happen.
Modifying driver behaviour through design
Delivery considerations for public transport are considered
Drivers often drive at what they perceive to be a safe speed
in section 4.2.
or what they feel is a reasonable speed for a particular
road, even if this conflicts with signed national and local

96 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Designing streets for different uses
New Road, Brighton

The improved New Road, one of Brighton’s most Partnership working and involving road users from the outset has
important streets, is one of the few shared-surface multi- resulted in a good understanding of the scheme and its potential
modal non-residential streets to be adopted. Initiated by benefits. The people in the street have been positive about the
Brighton & Hove City Council and led by Gehl Architects project, even as work has temporarily affected their businesses.
and Landscape Projects, designs are informed by a
The success of the design has been noticed almost immediately
detailed understanding of how people use the site and
with the street becoming a new social hub, providing a venue
the historically sensitive surroundings of Brighton’s Royal
for community events and increasing trade for existing pubs and
Pavilion and its gardens, where they walk and choose to
spend time.
‘The scheme did not really suffer from any significant
Based on consultation with existing users a broadly accepted
barriers as the required political support that seems to
vision for new urban life on New Road was achieved. It today
have held back similar schemes that “break from the
incorporates interests of different user groups and encourages
norm”…was present in Brighton & Hove.’
sitting, standing and walking activities based on people-focused
Jim Mayor, Brighton & Hove City Council Project Manager.
public space programming. Cars are allowed at all times but the
character of the street signals pedestrian priority.

Improvements to the public realm in New Road, Brighton has led to the street becoming a new focus for social activity and an increase in
trade for businesses in the area.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 97

Central (Mostly flats)

Suburban (Detached
and linked houses)
houses and flats)
Urban (Terraced

Off Plot
Front court
Rear court
Mews street

On Street
Central reservation
Right angled
Angled to pavement
In line with pavement
Housing square

On Plot
Mews court
Chauffeur unit
Integral garage
Attached garage
Cut out or drive through
Rear court
Car port
Detached garage
Detached garage to front

Rarely suitable location Can work in location when risks are removed Appropriate location at all times

Table 2.5 Car parking: what works where

98 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Walkable neighbourhoods Accommodating the car

The street pattern and level of connectivity, both locally and Promoting alternative modes of transport can reduce
globally, are critical to making a neighbourhood walkable. car use. However, ownership is likely to remain high
Research has shown that people are more likely to walk and space for parking may often still be required within
routes that offer long-distance views of where they are the public realm. How this is accommodated will have a
heading. Sense of safety is a key factor determining people’s significant impact on the quality and usability of the public
choice of walking and cycling. In order to make safe and realm. If parking is poorly designed, people will often
secure streets, the following fundamental aspects should be use surrounding public realm which is not designed to
considered when designing for the pedestrian: accommodate parked cars. Parking should be convenient
but not dominate.
• Pedestrian routes should be part of shared corridors
and road space Parking with frontage access can overcome many of these
• Building frontages (front doors and windows to issues and provide the most effective and attractive parking
habitable rooms) should be along the streets solution. People understand how it works, it is convenient,
and it can increase the activity and safety of the street.
• Street lighting for night time safety
• Allowing cars into central areas in the evening can Designers should consider how on-street parking can be
create more activity and provide natural surveillance maximised by providing appropriate street widths.
• Ensure routes are accessible for users of all abilities3 This is not the only solution. Each location requires careful
assessment of the balance of what can be provided on
Making cycling an attractive option street and on plot in order to deliver an effective solution.
Traffic calming can enable cyclists sharing trafficked roads. Table 2.5 illustrates the suitability of car parking treatments
Sustrans’ Making Ways for the Bicycle recommends that to particular residential locations. It is taken from
‘a policy to promote cycling does need modal share targets Car Parking: what works where,5 English Partnerships
for resource allocation as much as monitoring, even if those and Design for Homes’s publication which uses 24 case
targets may well need an early upward revision’.4 studies to illustrate appropriate car parking treatments for
specific locations.


1. Design of the public realm should create legible, 3. Involve all bodies early on to ensure design of
efficient and stimulating environments. public realm is coordinated, without clutter.
2. Public spaces can accommodate different modes
of movement by making streets work harder.

1. Manual for Streets. 2007. CLG and Department for Transport
2. Chainsaw Massacre. 03/05/07. The Guardian
3. Inclusive Design. 2007. English Partnerships
4. Making ways for the bicycle. 1994. Sustrans
5. Car parking: what works where. 2006. English Partnerships
and Design for Homes

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 99
Good design can add economic • Mechanisms to support
value. It can create areas where good design
people want to spend time, helping
• The right tools to select
to transform property markets.
developers able and willing
Well-designed places do more than
to create successful places
add economic value: by creating
places people want to live and work
in, places people feel safe to walk Good urban design can translate
around, places with good access to into higher values.
open space, public transport, facilities Applying urban design principles
and job opportunities, good design does not necessarily increase
can help to produce a range of social costs. Arranging the urban
and environmental benefits. structure, the spaces between
To achieve this requires: buildings, and the landscape
thoughtfully does not necessarily
• Commitment to achieving
cost more.
high standards of design
Creating successful places requires
• Understanding of how good
long-term funding and commitment.
design can add value




3.1.1 Financial value

3.1.2 Social and environmental benefits of good urban design
3.1.3 Value for money and Best Consideration
3.1.4 What is the cost of bad design?

Well-designed places where people want to live, spend medium and long term. International research has found that
time and work can generate financial value. Some developments based on sound design principles can raise
developers understand this and invest their time and values by 10-15 per cent.1 Recent work in the UK undertaken
resources in delivering quality to obtain high rewards. by The Prince’s Foundation, English Partnerships and Savills
The value of places designed on principles of good confirms the existence of a value premium associated
urban design is much wider than just financial value. with good urban design. 2 A 2007 study undertaken by
Embedding the principles of place-making within a NWDA/RENEW Northwest found that not only could good
scheme also improves the quality of life for those living urban design lead to an increase of 15-20 per cent in rental
there, delivering social and environmental value. It is or capital value, but it would also accelerate lettings and
of interest to all parties – including landowners, house sales rates.3 These studies reinforce the findings of CABE’s
builders, developers, local authorities and other public studies of the value of good design.4 043
sector promoters – to understand the principles of good
Enlightened developers perceive that there is a strong
urban design and ensure that they are followed.
commercial argument for investment in urban design.
The added value of a well-designed place can manifest Sixty-five per cent of the Building for Life gold winners have
itself in many ways for the different stakeholders proceeded with no public-sector subsidy. In these instances
involved. It is important that all stakeholders recognise the decision to promote high-quality design has been made
what they are. Some of the long-term social and on commercial grounds. 044
environmental benefits are less tangible and can
Good urban design can create a sense of place where there
be easily overlooked. Table 3.1 clearly sets out the
was none, and will build on the assets of an inherently well-
beneficiaries of value in urban design.
located site. Designing well can speed planning consents,
add value to land (see section 3.2), achieve faster property
3.1.1 Financial value
sales or lettings, and improve developers’ reputations
The argument for investment in good urban design is and brands. It can provide a competitive edge over other
simple: it can add value. However, short-term considerations schemes. This can be particularly important in the growth
sometimes override long-term benefits. To minimise costs, areas, where a number of competing new developments
some developers will look to limit upfront investment in may come on stream at the same time. 045
design to the minimum required to obtain planning approval.
Good urban design has the capacity to change market
Others invest more upfront, expecting higher values and
perceptions and behaviour. It can help to create and
receipts that will maintain or improve their overall return on
establish markets where none exist. Design has been
the project.
at the heart of recent initiatives such as the coalfields
Evidence shows that good design will increase the redevelopment and housing market renewal pathfinders.
financial reward landowners and developers can receive A fundamental understanding of context, urban structure,
for a scheme. Recent analysis suggests that landowners connections and investment in details and management
and promoters who invest in place-making can expect have helped to make these once more places where people
to achieve higher development and land value over the want to be.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 103

The Beneficiaries of Value in Urban Design

Stakeholders Short-term value Long-term value
(social, economic and environmental) (social, economic and environmental)

Landowners Potential for increased land values

Funders Potential for greater security of investment

(short term) depending on market

Developers Quicker permissions (reduced cost, less Better reputation (increased confidence/
uncertainty) trademark value) Future collaborations
Increased public support (less opposition) more likely

Higher sales values (profitability)

Distinctiveness (greater product differentiation)
Increased funding potential (public/private)
Allows difficult sites to be tackled

Design professionals Increased workload and repeat commissions Enhanced professional reputation
from high quality, stable clients

Investors Higher rental returns Maintenance of value/income

(long term) Increased asset value (on which to borrow) Reduced maintenance costs (over life)
Reduced running costs Better re-sale values
Competitive investment edge Higher quality longer-term tenants

Management agents Easy maintenance if high quality materials

Occupiers Happier workforce (better recruiting

and retention)
Better productivity
Increased business (client) confidence
Fewer disruptive moves
Greater accessibility to other uses/facilities
Reduced security expenditure
Increased occupier prestige
Reduced running cost (energy usage)

Public interests Regenerative potential (encouraging other Reduced public expenditure (on crime
development) prevention/urban management/urban
Reduced public/private discord maintenance/health)
More time for positive planning
Increased economic viability for neighbouring
uses/development opportunities
Increased local tax revenue
More sustainable environment

Community interests Better security and less crime

Increased cultural vitality
Less pollution (better health)
Less stress (better health)
Better quality of life
More inclusive public space
A more equitable/accessible environment
Greater civic pride (sense of community)
Reinforced sense of place
Higher property prices

Table 3.1 The beneficiaries of value in urban design Source: The Value of Urban Design, CABE/DETR 2001

104 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Estimating the value of good design
Port Marine, Portishead, Bristol

In developing large scale projects in areas of low demand, commonly 50% of the sales price. Crest Nicholson offset costs
Crest Nicholson has recognised the necessity of creating by increasing density. Planners support increased density based
a sense of place through strong design concepts from the on the quality proposed. They believe that they can generate a
earliest stage of development in order to raise confidence 15-20% increase in open market sales value because people
in the project and bring long-term value to both the want to buy into a good environment. This approach was found
developers and those people who are going to live there. to work best on medium to large sites due to an increased
opportunity to create location.
At Port Marine, Crest Nicholson has converted a disused
contaminated power station site into a mixed-use, mixed-tenure Crest Nicholson is committed to using external architects and
development, providing 3,420 homes, 69,680m2 of employment producing bespoke schemes. Creating places brings value, both
and 60,390m2 of retail space when complete. A hierarchy of in terms of financial return and in building a positive reputation as
streets, character areas, public, private and semi-private space, a developer synonymous with quality.
extensive hard and soft landscaping, public art works and
‘It is important to get the right mix of properties within
varying building types have helped create a sense of location in
each phase to help speed of sales. Good design can sell
an otherwise low-value site.
property off plan. Rate of sale is as important as £ profit
Stephen Stone, Chief Executive of Crest Nicholson explained because the turnover is quicker – something that is often
that they as developers commonly invest 10-20% more in overlooked’, Stephen Stone sums it up.
build costs than other developers, and that their build cost is

The design of high-quality development with a balanced mix of properties at Port Marine, Portishead, Bristol has led to the creation of a prime development
location in an otherwise low-value area.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 105

3.1.2 Social and environmental benefits of good 3.1.3 Value for money and Best Consideration
urban design
The way in which the public sector measures value when
Well-designed places deliver a wide range of social and disposing of land differs from the approach taken by other
environmental benefits. These are both positive externalities landowners. The public sector aims to achieve value for
(such as low carbon emissions) which have a value to money rather than simply the highest financial value for
society, and whole-life cost savings to the consumer (such land. This enables it to look at the wider benefits that can
as reduced insurance as a result of lower crime). be achieved by disposing of land in a way that will promote
good urban design.
The NWDA/RENEW Northwest1 study finds that well-
designed neighbourhoods which are well-managed and Central government departments and bodies are required
accommodate a mix of uses and tenures, and generous to take account of the social, economic and environmental
access to open space, are more likely to display: value for money of investments and disposals. Both the
Treasury and the National Audit Office have noted that
• Increased civic pride
good design is ‘an essential ingredient in achieving value
• Improved social cohesion for money… a good building project must contribute to
• Reduced fear of crime the environment in which it is located, deliver a range of
• Reduced levels of crime wider social and economic benefits, and be adaptable to
accommodate future uses’.6
• Relatively higher levels of physical and mental health
• A more efficient land footprint The Treasury’s Green Book7 (which provides the framework
for appraising policies, programmes and projects for central
• Reduced dependence on the car
government) sets out the principle that design quality can
• Reduced waste be a material non-financial consideration in evaluating the
• Improved sense of well being and belonging benefit of a project. It notes that value for money must be
• Vitality assessed over the whole lifetime of a project. This includes
disposal (either sales proceeds or decommissioning costs),
Such developments can deliver environmental savings more
estimating the costs and benefits to society as a whole, not
widely. The regulatory impact assessment for the Code for
simply those directly relevant to the purchaser. Government
Sustainable Homes showed that the environmental and
Accounting is currently being rewritten and is expected to
energy-saving benefits to consumers and society as a result
provide clearer guidance on assessing value for money
of introducing the code were greater than the additional
within the context of the public sector as a whole rather
construction costs arising from its introduction.5
than individual organisations.
Mixed-use, higher-density, walkable neighbourhoods
Local authorities are required (under the Local Government
encourage local services and community interaction,
Act 1972) to get best consideration for the land. However,
making safer, healthier, more attractive places.
following the introduction of their social, economic and
environmental well-being power, local authorities are able
to dispose of land at an undervalue of up to £2 million if
wider well-being objectives are being delivered, without the
Secretary of State’s consent.8

106 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Creating value through design
Brindley Place, Birmingham

‘[At Brindley Place] we used a different architect for each In response to whether one should invest in design, Roger
of the three key buildings – Porphyrios, Stanton Williams Madelin says, ‘Good design has a business benefit. On
and Sidell Gibson. This attracted three occupiers who multi-phased projects we have sometimes chosen to spend
fell in love with each building. One building was pre- more money on a building, perhaps for better materials –
let and although the other two were built speculatively, this can pay off, not necessarily in the initial rent but in the
the conversations we had had with leading law and buildings contribution to the place. The value of the whole
accountancy firms gave us the confidence to go ahead’ can be raised.’
Roger Madelin, Joint Chief Executive of Argent Group plc
Argent’s long-term approach meant that not all the design
decisions at Brindley Place were taken to maximise early
He believes that raising the level of design puts discussions revenues. Providing amenities such as the gallery required early
on a positive footing. ‘This has started conversations for us; investment and forgoing some revenues but greatly improved
quite often leading to lettings…Good development gives us the business location and quality of place. Good regeneration
something to be proud of, even if there is a gap in the letting. schemes like this not only generate value within the project but
People feel it will help their business – “Wow, this is the kind of also raise values in the long term and in the wider area.
building we want to be in”. Raising efficiency of the business
‘If you intend to be around for a while (as a business)
by 1% pays the rent.’
good design is well worth investing in.’ Roger Madelin,
Argent Group plc.

Upfront investment in quality public realm and amenities helped establish Brindley Place as a location of choice for new businesses.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 107

Attracting creative businesses
Holbeck Urban Village, Leeds

In collaboration with public sector partners, Igloo similar industries in an interactive location has helped ensure that
Regeneration invests in well-designed, resource-efficient, the development is fully let, and has been successful in helping
mixed-use, creative neighbourhoods on the edge of the new enterprises evolve.
top 20 UK city centres. Igloo Regeneration is committed to
Chris Brown, Chief Executive of Igloo Regeneration explains the
good design and a socially responsible investment policy.
company’s philosophy; ‘If we developed ‘contractor design’
At Holbeck Urban Village, Igloo has converted a semi-derelict (as we call it), we would just be creating a poor building in an
red light district on the edge of Leeds city centre into a new off-centre location, and we could only let it to an average tenant.
business and residential community, focused on creative and Instead we commission and deliver great design to attract
digital media. Completed in December 2004, Phase 1 comprises dynamic, design-led independent creative business occupiers.
studio, one- and two-bedroom homes, and restaurant/bar The Round Foundry in Holbeck Urban Village is a good
facilities integrated with the award-winning £5 million Round example of a building which we own and where we are funding
Foundry Media Centre. The Media Centre provides a high developers CTP St. James with the support of Yorkshire Forward
specification, serviced office environment attracting companies and Leeds City Council to create a dynamic and successful new
such as Rockliffe, Moves Recruitment, Branded 3 and New neighbourhood.’
Media Collective. Over the next 10 years a total of 2 million ft2 of
‘Creative industries are becoming an engine of economic
office space is expected to be generated.
growth,’ Brown says. ‘It’s important to use design skills to
Igloo believes that the quality of environment created within deliver neighbourhoods that can support their growth and
the urban village has enabled the development to become the compete with similar locations around the world.’
location of choice for the creative industries. Having a cluster of

Igloo Regeneration invested in design to attract independent, design-led, creative business occupiers at the Round Foundry, Holbeck Urban Village.

108 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

3.1.4 What is the cost of bad design? It’s not just a case of the cost of demolishing and replacing
poorly designed places. Poor design can have continuing
For those with a long-term interest in a project, the best costs for both residents and local authorities in terms of
justification for investing in design is the potential costs higher levels of public services being required to tackle poor
involved in managing and renewing poorly designed places. housing, high crime, vandalism and poor health. In 1997,
A report by the construction group Wates looked at a series 7.6 per cent of the housing stock was considered to be unfit.
of examples, good and bad, of investment in growth and This cost £3 billion in health care, £1.8 billion in crime and
regeneration over the past two decades. It concluded that £120 million for fire services.11
short-term thinking – and in particular an inability to take
account of whole-life costs and benefits – tends to lead to The Crime and Disorder Act 1998 and the Human Rights
the development of unsustainable communities with only Act 2000 place a significant moral and legal obligation
short-term benefits and potential for long-run failure.9 on authorities responsible for the design of the built
environment to take adequate steps to ensure that they
CABE’s publication The Cost of Bad Design10 found that consider likely crime and security implications in their
badly designed places imposed costs on their occupiers, design decision-making process. Research by Huddersfield
neighbours and on society. These included undermining University has shown that designing places in line with
amenities and potentially turning them into liabilities; Secured by Design principles can help to achieve this, and
physical disconnection, making it hard for the less mobile to achieve significant reductions in crime and the fear of
to get about; poor public transport connections, making crime.12 Good urban design will help achieve the principles
it difficult to recruit and retain staff, and social value being of well-connected places, well-surveyed streets and clearly
diminished by poorly designed public spaces. defensible private space required by Secured by Design.


1. Investment in good urban design can add
financial value to a place.
2. Well-designed places deliver environmental
and social benefits.
3. Poorly designed places are likely to incur higher
costs to individuals and society in the long run.

REFERENCES 7. Green Book, Appraisal and Evolution in Central Government.

1. Steuteville et al 2001. Eppli and Tu 1999. FPD Savills. 2002 2003. HM Treasury
2. Valuing Sustainable Urbanism. 2007. The Prince’s Foundation/English 8. Circular 06/03: Local Government Act 1972 general disposal consent
Partnerships. (England) 2003 disposal of land for less than the best consideration
3. Economic Value of Urban Design. 2007. NWDA/RENEW Northwest that can reasonably be obtained. 2003. ODPM
4. The Value of Good Design. 2002. CABE 9. Failing communities: Breaking the cycle. 1006. Wates Group
5. Proposal to introduce a Code for Sustainable Homes: Regulatory Impact 10. The cost of bad design. 2006. CABE
Assessment. 2006. CLG 11. The Real Cost of Poor Homes: Footing the Bill. 1997. RICS
6. Getting Value for Money from Construction Projects. 2004. NAO 12. Source: Strathclyde Police website

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 109


3.2.1 Adding value to land

3.2.2 Creating a place
3.2.3 Reducing development costs
3.2.4 Thinking ahead

Urban design requires investment upfront but can add where schemes were well designed.3 The most successful
value to a development in a number of ways. Decisions places are often characterised by density peaks and
on how buildings, streets and landscapes are arranged troughs. Densities should peak in the vicinity of public
can add value by making the best use of land. Good transport stops or intersections, and around neighbourhood
design can transform perceptions of an area and facilities, ensuring that catchment areas have workplaces
property markets, and create successful places where within walking distance.
people want to live, work and spend time. These places
The distribution of uses will also have an impact on the
can deliver a range of social and environmental
values those uses can commend. Commercial uses should
benefits too.
be located in places where they are accessible. Locating
these near main junctions with good public transport
3.2.1 Adding value to land 046 047
connections will improve footfall and viability. Care should
Recent research by The Prince’s Foundation, English be taken to ensure that sites located in places with high
Partnerships and Savills1 indicates that good urban design footfall are fully exploited.
can produce a more efficient built footprint by making
Good design can help to reduce the amount of hard surface,
the best use of land and creating value through the
and to deal imaginatively with requirements for servicing and
appropriate densities, public space, uses and distribution
car parking.
of buildings. By following the principles of the Urban Design
Compendium, schemes can create successful places at little
Making the best of of open space
or no additional cost.
As well as providing a range of social and environmental
Good urban design adds value. The same floorspace, benefits, amenity spaces such as squares, parks and
streets and landscape can be arranged in ways that create waterfronts can add considerably to the economic value
attractive or unattractive places. Achieving a high quality of neighbouring properties and the wider area. A garden
of urban design is likely, however, to require a higher level bordering water can increase the price of a house by
of spending early in the development process than a 11 per cent, while a view of water or having a lake nearby
conventional development route. Research has found that can raise the price by ten per cent and seven per cent
the added value this investment delivers usually more than respectively. A view of a park can raise prices by
outweighs these costs.2 eight per cent, while having a park nearby can raise
prices by six per cent.4
Efficient planning
The disposition and type of properties that are allocated
Good urban design can add value to development through
to these potentially high-value sites should be carefully
using land highly efficiently, and planning and distributing
considered. An active waterfront including a mix of uses, for
uses and building types to create a sense of place. Density
example, may be able to create a higher overall site value
must be appropriate for the location to avoid undermining
than a scheme that uses the waterfront sites fully for single-
quality through site-cramming. Research by CABE has
use residential development but where adjoining areas gain
found that increased values achieved for higher-density
little benefit.
schemes can be far above the increased costs of building

110 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Offsetting costs to increase values
Adelaide Wharf, London

At Adelaide Wharf, Hackney, First Base has been working recouped through increased value; ‘Great architects generally
through the London-Wide Initiative (a partnership between cost more than average architects; up to 2% more in fee rates.
English Partnerships, Housing Corporation, CLG, and Design fees are calculated on construction works; construction
the GLA) to deliver a high-quality new urban block next is generally about 40% of total scheme value. To offset the cost
to the Regents Canal. The scheme designed by Allford of great design we need about 0.8% increase in values.
Hall Monaghan Morris (AHMM) delivers 147 high-quality,
‘Architect-designed buildings may cost more to build, however,
sustainable apartments around a central amenity space,
with a strong client it is possible to restrain the architect to keep
including 50% affordable. Adelaide Wharf makes an
costs within 10% above the normal 40% of total development
important contribution to the regeneration of the local
value; therefore, we need to achieve a 4% increase in total
area by raising confidence through quality and by creating
development value to offset this additional cost. In total therefore
an active new street front which helps improve perceived
we are looking at 4.8%, rising to 6.5% (to cover profit and on-
safety in the area.
costs) increase in value required to offset costs.’
First Base believes that investing in good design and good
Ben believes the costs can easily be met from quicker rates of
designers makes economic sense. Ben Denton, Director of
sales, higher values per m2 and higher overall values per home.
Investment and Management at First Base and a CABE enabler
is convinced that any additional costs incurred by employing ‘I have no doubt that good design more than pays, but
good designers or additional spending on construction, can be strong leadership is also required so costs are contained.’

Increasing values at Adelaide Wharf minimised the need for ‘off the shelf’ solutions and offset the cost of architect-designed buildings.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 111

Delivering an integrated approach
Didsbury Point, Manchester

Countryside Properties firmly believes in adding value Richard Cherry, Deputy Chairman, Countryside Properties
through design rather than maximising profit by reducing reinforces his company’s commitment to creating quality places
costs. The housebuilder has been expanding its portfolio
‘People like innovation – something that is a bit different.
of sites in northern regions based on their philosophy of
But design is also about quality of internal spaces/light,
designing schemes to look like they have been developed
sustainable building, and the public realm. Planning
on a bespoke basis whilst using standardisation on
puts too much emphasis on just the external aspects of
specifications, components and floor plans to bring
buildings. Future energy consumption is absolutely key.
economies of scale.
Too often the public realm is left out and the quality of
Countryside demonstrated its commitment to quality at Didsbury landscape poor. A more integrated approach is needed.’
Point where it set out to deliver an urban extension that was a
Countryside shares its philosophy:
responsible development, which ensures a lasting and positive
legacy for generations to come. This award-winning mixed- • Support developers who add value through design rather
use development features highly contemporary buildings than cost cutting
with individual attention to detail using standard components,
• Restrict scale of buy-to-let if it is affecting design
creating a unique and varied street scene. Many homes have
large flexible living areas with generous balconies and terraces. • Street scene, energy consumption, landscape are as
The development promotes a range of sustainable travel options important as elevations
and has acted as a beacon of regeneration for this part of
• MMC can be applied intelligently to bring economies of

These contemporary homes at Didsbury Point have been delivered using standard specifications, components and floor plans.

112 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Value will be maximised where the landscaping is of high Public art can help to reclaim derelict buildings and
quality. It is important that there is a clear management plan land, generate pride in an area, increase a sense of local
for all public open space. ownership of a town centre, and develop a distinct cultural
identity. Investment in public art can influence choices of
3.2.2 Creating a place business location. In a study of how businesses chose
buildings, 62 per cent of occupiers recognised that the
It is important to make the urban design concept visible at
contribution which public art made to their building was
an early stage. To maximise values on a large site, the initial
significant and 64 per cent of occupiers agreed or agreed
phases must demonstrate the quality of the place that will be
strongly that public art made their building distinctive. Most
built. This can be done through the quality of materials used,
investors confirmed that public art had an important role to
the quality of the public realm and the detailing. Where a site
play in helping them choose between competing buildings,
is of sufficient size to require a new neighbourhood centre,
and that this facilitated letting and reduced risk.6
the developer should work closely with the local authority
to consider how public transport, shops, services and
facilities can be provided at an early stage to meet the needs
Landmark buildings can add value by promoting the image
of residents. This will increase the prices of early phases,
and culture of a place. This can be an important factor for
as residents will be buying into a place where facilities are
encouraging businesses to locate in an area. It can also
becoming established. Consideration should be given to the
boost tourism and visitors who will contribute to the local
quality of life for the first residents in terms of such issues as
access (see section 3.4).
3.2.3 Reducing development costs
High-quality materials
High-quality materials will not necessarily add significantly
Swifter planning 049
to the overall cost of construction and site purchase.
Delays in obtaining planning approvals can significantly
If palettes of materials are to be specified, this should be
increase development costs. Collaborative working with
done at the outset before design work begins. Otherwise
local authorities and key stakeholders from the outset will
the additional cost will be seen as a much higher proportion
provide developers with a clear understanding of what is
of profits.
required from a scheme. Agreeing design principles early
on can help avoid delays in the planning process. Investing
High-quality public realm 048
time and resources upfront can often avoid costly appeals
A well-designed public realm creates places that are legible
and reworking of designs. Certainty over the required design
and pleasant. These places will also be good for business.
quality can enable a project to be completed more quickly.
CABE’s research into the value of public space found that
well-planned improvements to public space can boost Design codes can give confidence to developers working
commercial trading by up to 40 per cent.4 Another study by on each phase that schemes which meet the codes’
CABE found that an improvement in street design quality requirements will obtain planning approval more quickly
could add around five per cent to residential prices and and that adjoining land parcels will also comply with the
retail rents.5 same standards.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 113

Commissioning public art
Princesshay, Exeter

Land Securities Group plc has a distinguished record of Day, on the site of the original Almshouses, includes a series
supporting the arts as an integral part of their development of glass doors, which are copies of medieval doors. The doors
projects. In recent years the commitment to public art encapsulate archaeological finds, arranged chronologically with
commissioning as part of their new developments, retail earliest artefacts located at the bottom of the door and the most
and commercial, has been a priority. This commitment recent at the top. Additionally, quotations from the Chapter Act
arises not from a gesture towards philanthropy but from records, referring those living in the Almshouses, have been
a belief in the benefits that public art brings to Land sandblasted into the porphyry stone paving slabs.
Securities and the communities whom their developments
Prior to the development, the Almshouses had become a haven
will affect. Commissioning high-quality site-specific
for drug users and initial thoughts had been to simply put railings
artworks creates a unique development, adds to sense of
up around the site. However, commissioning of the artwork,
place and gives an extra level of quality and detail to the
lighting scheme and landscape architecture by Land Securities
built environments.
has created a hugely popular destination within Exeter, attracting
Princesshay, due for completion this year, is a particularly good so many visitors that, in response, a new café has now been
example of the success of site-specific public art. One of several opened in Bedford Square, overlooking the Almshouses.
public art commissions, ‘Marking Time’ by Patricia MacKinnon-

New public art at Princesshay has helped improve the identity of the area, raised the quality of the built environment and attracted new business to the area.

114 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Working in partnership
Staiths South Bank, Gateshead

Taylor Wimpey is working to change the way in which they varied house types and a hierarchy of public and semi-private
do business. Currently the largest housebuilder in the spaces. Residents are encouraged to meet and interact with
UK, they recognize the value in collaborating with local their neighbours in the UK’s largest new build Home Zone. The
authorities, building strong relationships with a defined scheme provides a dynamic and contemporary new image of
number of authorities, and building more high- quality housing both within its context to the River Tyne and as a model
schemes, delivered with greater speed through the for the renaissance of Gateshead.
planning system.
Where developers work in partnership with local authorities,
By working collaboratively with local authorities, Taylor Wimpey such as at SSB, there is an opportunity to build something
hopes to avoid a tick box approach to planning which often outstanding, avoid costly delays and satisfy far more
delivers lowest common denominator results. Local authorities stakeholders. Gateshead Council will have much greater faith
often spend their limited resources opposing schemes and then in dealing with future phases of the development if the same
end up with a mediocre result which doesn’t serve either party. partnership approach and comittment to quality is upheld. Taylor
For the developer, there is delay, high cost and a relatively poor Wimpey is promoting this approach to development nationally,
project to market. with an understanding that local authorities will give priority
to securing good development with lesser quality schemes
At Staiths South Bank (SSB), Taylor Wimpey teamed up with
falling to the bottom of the pile. Developers who put effort into
Hemingway Design to prove that the major housebuilders
collaboration and design rather than confrontation will gain a
could deliver high-quality new neighbourhoods. SSB provides
competitive advantage.

Working in partnership at Staithes South Bank has led to the creation of an award-winning neighbourhood where the first phase of development
was sold within four hours.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 115

Developers with a track record of creating successful One area where this is particularly pressing is the
schemes will often find that they benefit from swifter requirements for developments to reduce energy
negotiations, as local authorities are confident of the consumption. Although these are led by government policy,
quality of the place that will be created. consumers are demanding more from their homes. The rise
in energy prices and awareness of the impacts of climate
Speed of sale change have meant that consumers want energy-efficient
Well-designed schemes benefit from faster sales and homes. With all new houses now requiring an energy rating,
lettings. Such schemes have a competitive edge over other developments that respond to the environmental agenda are
products on the market and will withstand any dips in the likely to command a price premium.
property market more robustly.
Although energy labelling will not be introduced for
commercial buildings until 2008, businesses are already
3.2.4 Thinking ahead requiring premises that are sustainable, with low energy
Potential changes in the market, changes in consumer consumption. As well as reducing operational costs, this can
requirements and changes in government policy will enhance corporate identity and attract energy-conscious
generally be considered by the development industry. employees. Many businesses are also thinking ahead
to 2009, when a new carbon-reduction commitment is
expected to cap their carbon dioxide emissions.


1. The efficient use of land will add value.
2. Creating a sense of place will add value.
3. Working with local authorities will help streamline
the planning process.

REFERENCES 3. The Value of Housing Design and Layout. 2003. CABE

1. Valuing Sustainable Urbanism. 2007. The Prince’s Foundation/ 4. The Value of Public Space. 2004. CABE
English Partnerships. 5. Paved with gold. 2007. CABE
2. Design Coding in Practice: an evaluation. 2006. UCL/ 6. For Art’s Sake: public art, planning policies and the benefits for
Bartlett School of Planning/Tibbalds commercial property’. 1995. Roberts and Marsh

116 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk


3.3.1 Establishing the team

3.3.2 Sharing risk
3.3.3 Patient money
3.3.4 Delivery structures

An effective delivery vehicle will be required to achieve Quality is most likely to be maintained on projects where
successful, high-quality development. The roles and there is clear leadership in achieving the vision and
responsibilities of each stakeholder or partner in a coordinating the stakeholders. This role is often undertaken
project will vary depending on the type of partnership or by the public sector, which is likely to become involved
process for delivery. The most appropriate approach in projects where its involvement will bring added value
will depend on the scale and objectives of the project, to the development. This value may be in terms of raising
the level of commitment of each partner and the quality standards, providing additional affordable homes
resources available. or jobs, or speeding up the process. The public sector may
also be involved in exemplar projects that show how to
Various partners will be involved for different reasons.
achieve sustainable design. This may involve working with
A public-sector agency may be interested in providing
private sector to explore issues relating to risk, innovation,
affordable homes, jobs, mixed uses, and long-term
efficiencies and supply chains.
economic, social and physical regeneration. Whilst a
private-sector partner may support these objectives, The level of coordination required will depend on the size
they will be more interested in maximising their return and complexity of the project. The public sector’s role can
in the short- to medium-term, with minimal risk to their involve undertaking site preparation works (especially on
shareholders. The public sector may be prohibited by larger sites) such as site assembly and remediation works,
law from developing directly. The private developer masterplanning, design coding, and upfront investment in
may need a partner to share risk or help deliver infrastructure and the public realm.
necessary infrastructure. 050
3.3.2 Sharing risk 051
3.3.1 Establishing the team
The promoter of the project must decide how it wants to
For the structure to be effective, there should be clear share risk and returns with its prospective partners. This will
agreement about the roles and responsibilities of each determine how the mechanism is structured. The structure
body. In addition to the landowner, the main players may may be determined partly by how much long-term control
be the promoter, developer, plot developer (for phased over the quality of development is required.
schemes), infrastructure provider and registered social
Where there is strong commitment to high-quality
landlord. Consideration needs to be given to the length
development, a project promoter will usually coordinate
of each player’s involvement in the project, and how the
site preparation works such as site assembly, remediation,
development will be managed in the long term (see
infrastructure works, masterplanning and design coding.
section 5.1).
This can help to ensure that the work is carried out to a
It is important that stakeholders share the objectives and high standard.
vision for the project. There must be a clear understanding
Project promoters may pull together a portfolio of sites such
of the resources, skills and commitment required to help
that developers are able to spread risk. Developers and
achieve these objectives effectively. Success depends on
investors look for certainty: greater certainty makes land
reconciling these objectives and all parties maintaining
more attractive. Developers are more likely to commit to
realistic expectations. Where parties are entering into a
design quality on sites where risk has been reduced.
joint venture or working arrangement, a conflict resolution
process should be agreed from the outset.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 117

For large-scale projects, the sponsors may retain control Risk can be reduced and financial efficiencies achieved
during development by acting as promoter and releasing so that the costs and generation of value are aligned as
phases to plot developers. This will assure the landowner closely as possible. Careful modelling of public and private
that the development will be of high quality. This requires involvement in a scheme can help to finance elements of a
long-term commitment from the landowner, who is likely scheme that cannot be commercially justified over a short
to benefit from higher values in later phases. investment horizon. Careful engineering of the business
model will be a key to making a development viable and to
The further down the route a landowner can proceed on
delivering on design quality and broader social objectives.
their own resources towards securing a planning permission
and making a site ready for development, the higher the In a multi-phase development project, the value of the
values they will achieve, and the lower the risk to a potential development can rise dramatically over time in response
development partner. The project sponsor can be confident to the creation of a place with identity. This is particularly
in securing a higher and more consistent quality of delivery true in regeneration schemes where research by IPD for
where they remain the coordinating partner. For various English Partnerships and Morley Fund Management has
reasons it often appears attractive, particularly on a short- found urban regeneration areas have tended to out-perform
term basis, to offload much of a project’s initial cost (of adjacent areas in many sectors.1 This requires upfront
infrastructure, for example) to a partner. However, it is investment in infrastructure, high-quality public realm and
important fully to understand the medium- to long-term a range of amenities. To capture the value from these later
costs of doing this, in terms of both finance and phases requires a different funding model from conventional
quality control. residential development, as developers must take a long-
term view. To obtain maximum returns in the medium and
Consideration should be given to the amount of control the
long term requires the investment of ‘patient equity’ (being
project sponsor requires over the design quality, the level
willing to wait for returns).
of commitment and resources they are willing to commit,
and the level of reward they require. Retaining a high level of As the diagram below illustrates achieveing quality requires
control over a development will help to achieve high-quality effort and commitment, and may invole greater risk initially,
design, but it also requires a high level of resources and but can deliver greater rewards especially in the long term.
commitment, so there is a high degree of risk. However,
by lowering the risk to a developer and ensuring quality,
the reward at the end should be higher. Where a project
sponsor retains minimal control over a development, they
will be unable to influence the design quality. Although
this approach carries a low level of risk (as the landowner
receives a return for the site early on), the return will be
Most mechanisms seek to strike a balance between these
two extremes, raising quality by sharing risk. This provides
joint control and joint returns.

3.3.3 Patient money

The cash flow of a large project will be managed over
a long period of time. Remediating a site and providing ITY
Risk & Reward

primary infrastructure may take between five and 10 years. QU

Construction of development may take from three to 25
years. There may be a substantial time lag before the initial
capital investment in a scheme can be recouped in part or
in full. There is no guarantee of returns, and a development
may have to weather a number of development cycles and
fluctuations in the interest rate. Effort / Commitment

118 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Involving the right players
Oxford Castle Ltd / Oxfordshire County Council / Oxford Preservation Trust

The involvement of public, private and voluntary sectors of the works for non-revenue producing uses. The result was a
in this city centre regeneration project has transformed partnership between the landowners OCC, the developer Oxford
the disused prison on the historic site of Oxford Castle Castle Ltd and the Oxford Preservation Trust. The project also
into a major mixed-use development comprising hotel, received grant funding from sources including SEEDA, English
restaurants, housing and a visitor attraction around new Heritage and Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment.
public spaces.
Part of the site was leased back to OCC who in turn leased it to
Having bought the site from Crown Properties when the prison the Oxford Preservation Trust (OPT) to run the visitor attraction,
closed in 1996, Oxfordshire County Council (OCC) took the site Learning Centre, and the public space. OPT’s continued
to market resulting in the appointment of the Trevor Osbourne involvement in the project through the management of these
Property Group as development partner. The developer then aspects also ensured that high quality would be maintained.
set up Oxford Castle Ltd who were given a 200-year lease by
‘To develop a mixed-use scheme on this scale required
landowners OCC, subject to various works being undertaken,
imagination, determination and cooperation’, as Debbie
through a Development Agreement. Crucially this included
Dance of Oxford Preservation Trust clearly states, ‘None of
restoration and new build works to the ancient buildings. The
us could do it without the other.’
Oxford Preservation Trust then obtained a grant from the Heritage
Lottery Fund that matched the value of this particular element

Collaborative working between developers, the local authority and local interest groups has led to the development of an award-winning mixed-use
development at Oxford Castle, Oxford.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 119

Partnering to maximise available resources and skills

Blueprint, formerly known as the East Midlands Property economic transformation with an emphasis on creation of
Investment Fund (EMPIF), is a property regeneration creative/knowledge industries. Blueprint intends to work closely
partnership set up to generate social, economic and with regional local authorities to assist the goal of becoming one
environmental benefits in the East Midlands within a of Europe’s top 20 regions.
commercial framework. A 50/50 public/private partnership,
Blueprint assesses all schemes against their Socially
comprising East Midlands Development Agency (EMDA)
Responsible Investment Policy which covers regeneration,
(25%), English Partnerships (25%) and Morley Fund
environmental sustainability and urban design.
Management’s Igloo Regeneration Fund (50%), investment,
ownership, risk and profit are shared equally between the The structure of Blueprint confers advantage by bringing
partners. together, in partnership, significant resources and high level
skills from influential public and private sector organisations. The
Blueprint’s remit is to revitalise deprived neighbourhoods through
financial structure permits a long-term view with performance
regenerative, well-designed, mixed-use and environmentally
judged according to likely outcomes over the whole 10-year life
sustainable property development. This includes facilitating
of the vehicle.

One of Blueprint’s projects, regeneration of the historic city centre of Derby to create mixed-use residential and office development aims to optimise the
attributes of the location while supporting the economic growth of Derby.

120 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Where developers and funders cannot be persuaded to take flexibility to allow standards to rise as the schemes progress.
the chance of such risks occurring, a scheme may need to Clear contracts are vital to ensure the quality of the
be de-risked by the public sector subject to state-aid rules. development.
In this situation the public sector will be able to negotiate
priority returns to recoup its investment. Disposal of site with conditions 053
If the landowner is looking to maximise capital receipts
3.3.4 Delivery structures
or minimise risk exposure to a scheme, it may be more
High-quality control 052 appropriate to seek a straightforward sale. Even where a
Projects which adopt a long-term, high-control structure site is disposed of outright, the landowner can still play
are usually those led by the public sector where there is a an effective role in helping to ensure design quality. This
significant task in terms of transforming an area. The most can include developing a masterplan and possibly design
hands-on approach is where a statutory agency such as codes. Where these are attached to the sale of a site, careful
an urban development corporation is established to deliver consideration should be given to the resources available to
the project. Such agencies, requiring central government ensure they are adhered to, and to the legal obligations that
approval, generally benefit from planning powers for will guarantee quality.
major applications within a specified area. These are most
An alternative approach is to impose specific standards
beneficial where significant development is required across
relating to such matters as design quality, environmental
a number of sites.
performance and community management by placing
A project sponsor acting as main promoter for the duration conditions on the disposal either through the planning
of the development will have strong control over the quality process or through the disposal or development agreement.
of design. This approach provides the project sponsor Incentives for developers to take additional development risk
with the chance to ensure that design quality is maintained can be provided through overage agreements which share
across a development. It can also provide opportunities profits between promoter and developer. Project sponsors
to improve design standards by applying lessons learnt should avoid selling to good bids without legal tie-in to
from previous phases. The approach requires considerable ensure quality.
resources as it needs continued management of the project
and of the main stakeholders, putting each phase out to Partnering
tender, and establishing management structures. However, The likelihood of achieving a high-quality scheme can be
the project sponsor can benefit from increased values as improved by working with a group of pre-defined partners.
later phases come through. These could be organisations which have either passed a
selection process on a set of agreed standards or performed
The quality of development can be controlled through
well on previous schemes. Negotiated sales could be
development agreements and building under licence. For
endorsed where previous partnerships have produced
large or long-term developments, contracts must have
the levels of quality and efficiency that are required for
sufficient flexibility to allow standards to rise as the
additional phases.
schemes progress.
Where the private sector takes the lead, the public sector
Joint venture partnerships can use the planning process to ensure that a good place
Where a lesser amount of control is necessary, the is created (see section 4.1). This will involve agreeing an
landowner may consider entering a joint venture overall concept, ensuring that a high standard of urban
partnership. This can cover a single site or a development design is met through encouraging good masterplanning,
portfolio. This arrangement will enable significant long-term and design coding, and using section 106 negotiations to
control over the site to be retained. Where this approach ensure that public amenities are provided. As with public-
is taken, there needs to be clear agreement between the sector landowners, the private-sector landowners or master
parties on the design objectives and requirements, how developers can impose conditions on subdevelopers
these will be enforced, and how profit will be shared. This through the use of development agreements and building
should be set out in a memorandum of understanding. As under licence. Master developers will often want to ensure
with development agreements, there must be sufficient quality is maintained across the development to protect both
their investment and their reputation.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 121

Developing a shared agenda
Castlefields Regeneration Partnership

Halton Borough Council formed the Castlefields • Ensuring long-term stewardship and management
Regeneration Partnership along with English Partnerships,
The Partnership worked with the local community to develop a
the Housing Corporation, CDS Housing, Northwest
masterplan which sets a framework for future investment and
Development Agency and Liverpool Housing Trust to deliver
ensures that the various strands of regeneration knit together.
a holistic approach to regeneration for this rundown 1970s
In total, the partners have committed over £45m to delivering
sink estate. The Partnership was established to deliver a
this programme.
comprehensive regeneration approach.
The Partnership has also produced a Place-making Plan which
Regular meetings have enabled the Partnership to develop a
sets out how partners could work together to raise the quality of
shared agenda, draw on the experience and expertise of each
the whole environment and enhance its sense of place. This has
organisation and to understand roles and responsibilities.
informed phasing to ensure projects meet community needs and
The Partnership has five main roles: that they complement each other to create a sense of place. A
Castlefields Design Palette has also been developed.
• Guardian of overall vision and regeneration framework
Projects delivered to date include the extremely successful
• Champion the renaissance of the Castlefields estate
Phoenix Park. This is a state of the art youth activity park
• Coordination of initiatives and projects comprising a new pavilion, a skatepark, climbing boulder and
play areas. The design was informed by local people for
• Facilitating, coordinating and procuring physical and social
local people.

A Place-making Plan setting out how partners work together, their aspirations, coordination of initiatives and the long-term stewardship of
projects has already helped to deliver Phoenix Park, which is a state of the art activity park.

122 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Disposing of a site with conditions
Lawley, Telford

Lawley is a groundbreaking urban development, setting authority to determine reserve matters. Use of codes will help to
standards on how a large sustainable community can be ensure the design principles developed collaboratively through
designed, created and integrated with an existing town. an Enquiry by Design process will be delivered on the site.
The 70 ha brownfield site will deliver 3,300 homes, offices,
The code developers, EDAW, were retained by English
restaurants, bars, a primary school, parkland and shops.
Partnerships as independent design consultants. This has been
In 2006, English Partnerships disposed of the entire site to a joint crucial in helping to support the local authority in assessing
bid from George Wimpey, Persimmon Homes and Barratt Homes planning applications. It is important to have this ongoing
who will develop the site and provide infrastructure. The land has support to ensure that both developers and the local authority
been passed to the developer on building licence, with freeholds are able to understand and respond to the codes effectively.
eventually transferring to the individual freeholders.
In addition, the section 106 agreement includes funding for
To help ensure the development provides good quality urban a dedicated officer at the local planning authority to monitor
design English Partnerships worked with the council to develop compliance with the codes during construction.
design codes for the site. These will be used by the local

Upfront work in developing the masterplan and design codes with the local authority will help to ensure the development at Lawley delivers good
quality urban design.


1. Effective coordination of stakeholders 3. Patient money (being willing to wait for returns)
can lead to high quality. can deliver quality in the long run.
2. A high level of control will raise design
standards but it requires time and effort.

1. Urban Regeneration Index. 2007. IPD for English Partnerships and Morley
Investment Fund

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 123


3.4.1 Parceling land

3.4.2 Developer considerations
3.4.3 Design codes
3.4.4 Phasing

Large-scale masterplans are often subdivided into • Mixed-use – specialist developers can be brought in
development parcels to bring benefits in terms of the to undertake different elements of the scheme, such
speed and value of the development. They can also as retail or leisure facilities.
bring design benefits including variety and diversity.
Careful planning is required to ensure that the size Urban design benefits
and arrangement of these parcels contribute to the • Variety – different designers can work on separate
masterplan vision and is financially viable. parts of the project.
• Diversity – smaller land parcels enable a large
The phasing of sites is likely to have a significant impact
project to be opened up to smaller developers and
on the success of a scheme. Creating public realm and
architectural practices.
delivering essential facilities at an early stage can help
make a destination and influence patterns of use. For • Innovation – small parcels can encourage innovative
example, providing public transport and community approaches to layout and design.
facilities early will help ensure that the first residents are • Visual interest – character areas will make the site
not dependent on cars. However, facilities require a critical interesting to move round and can enhance legibility.
mass to make them viable. Decisions need to be made This route begins to describe the role of land developer
on which facilities are required at the outset, where these which is beginning to emerge as schemes become
should be located, who will provide them and how these more complex. The land developer acts as overall
will grow with the development. project promoter.

3.4.1 Parceling land 3.4.2 Developer considerations

The benefits of dividing a large scheme into a series of Establishing the character of a development
discrete development projects include: On large public-sector regeneration programmes it may be
beneficial to bring in a specialist design-led development
Development benefits company to create a bespoke scheme at the outset,
• Speed – construction can proceed on several fronts establishing the character of the development. The quality
simultaneously. of design is vital as the first phase will act as a benchmark
• Flexibility – it can give time for additional land or for subsequent phases.
interests to be acquired.
If a high standard of design is sought, make sure that in
• Risk reduction – the masterplan is implemented subsequent phases, where greater volumes might be a
through a series of deals, and contractual priority, good design performance remains a condition of
agreements can evolve according to performance participation in the scheme.
on the preceding land parcel.
• Value engineering – the promoter can engineer a Size of development parcel
business model that can take advantage of higher Developers will typically prefer larger land parcels and
land values in later phases of the project when the a minimum of variety in construction methods and
value of the place has been established. components, for reasons of efficiency, ease, certainty and
management. Creative design can make interesting, unique
and identifiable places even from standard components.

124 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Providing landowner certainty
Newhall, Harlow

Design codes have been deployed at Newhall to deliver minimum building heights, parking solutions and construction
the vision and are seen as the working drawings of the specifications. The code does, however, allow considerable
masterplan. These were developed to provide landowner freedom for architectural expression within these masterplan
certainty that design aspirations for the site would be geometries. There are no controls on elevational appearance
delivered. The codes have been devised to raise quality other than placement of entrances, the requirement for passive
and hence value without unreasonably increasing costs. surveillance and, where appropriate, active edges to public
spaces. There is reliance on a consistent approach to the
The codes at Newhall work on three levels:
public realm, and a colour and materials palette for building, to
• movement structure and spatial hierarchy bring cohesion. Quality materials including hand-made bricks,
granite and slate are required and are estimated to only add a
• land use and massing
quarter per cent to construction costs. A colour palette devised
• architectural and public realm detail with artist Tom Porter for elevations, roofscape, floorscape and
building openings is mandatory but has been enthusiastically
The Newhall code provides clear requirements for shaping
endorsed by all.
and detailing the public realm with mandatory built-to lines,

The design code for Newhall sets out clear requirements for materials, public realm design, building heights, build-to lines, car parking and construction
standards whilst allowing freedom for architectural expression on elevations.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 125

Achieving variety through codes
Upton, Northampton

Design codes were developed to deliver the vision The codes focus on urban form, street types, block principles,
for Upton, a sustainable urban extension on the edge boundary treatments, building types and uses, building heights
of Northampton. The mixed-use scheme will deliver and materials along with SUDS, public realm and environmental
approximately 1,400 energy efficient homes, a primary standards. By focusing on form rather than detail, the codes
school, shops, offices, cafes/restaurants, public house, have enabled a variety of architectural styles to evolve. These
nursery, interpretation centre, playing fields and a country provide visual interest and character whilst ensuring there is
park. The site uses a sustainable urban drainage system harmony between the different phases.
(SUDS) to minimise environmental impact, together
The use of the codes has led to better designs which in turn
with higher densities to reduce land take and integrated
has helped to speed delivery with detailed applications for the
infrastructure to link adjoining brownfield developments.
various sites within Upton taking approximately eight weeks to
The masterplan was developed in collaboration with key be approved. This has been achieved through significant upfront
stakeholders and the local community through an Enquiry by investment of time and resources from those developing the
Design process, with the design codes being worked up by the codes and the development of effective processes for dealing
project team consisting of the partners and the consultant team. with applications.The codes now provide clear design guidance
Upton was the first project to link these two tools. and instruction for all parties.

The codes have helped deliver a range of architectural styles ranging from traditional town houses and mews to more contemporary homes. Homes designed
by Gale and Snowdon Ltd.

126 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

In residential development, volume housebuilders will Relating the development parcels

typically seek a completion rate of not less than 50 homes To ensure minimal disruption to residents during construction,
a year on a single development parcel. Sites or parcels of design or developer parcels can be subdivided along the back
sites offering the potential for 200-400 homes are sought to of the plot or as seams in the public realm:
make development worthwhile, although smaller sites will
• Along the back of the plot for ease of construction on
be considered under special circumstances, such as a high-
low-order streets.
profile development (and in high-value areas, mainstream
developers will consider more constrained development • Within the public realm at key locations where variety
opportunities). Smaller developers may look at sites of 20-50 is required.
homes. The two markets are distinct and require appropriate To ensure consistency, the public realm should be overseen
decisions on parcel size and marketing. by a single person.
Avoid cherry-picking. Allowing developers to build only the
Coordinating infrastructure
most profitable elements of a masterplan will mean that the
Ensuring that the construction of infrastructure and public
costly or more difficult parts will be left to the promoter, or
realm accords with design intentions (and subsequent
deferred indefinitely.
adoption) can be difficult where land is subdivided into
different development packages. The problems can be
Mixing tenures
exacerbated where development parcels join. There are three
Good places usually offer a mix of housing opportunities.
options to minimize potential disruption and ensure continuity:
Developments should deliver a mix of tenures and housing
types across all phases. Houses of different tenures should • Detailed specifications for infrastructure can be
be indistinguishable when built. In distributing subsidised attached to the sale of land and followed by rigorous
housing, strike a balance between pepper-potting site inspections.
(scattering it) and creating small groups (ideally six homes • The promoter’s team (urban design, engineering,
or less) for ease of management. Adopting this approach landscape) is seconded to each developer.
should not reduce land values. Research by the Joseph
• The promoter constructs infrastructure in advance,
Rowntree Foundation found that tenure mix affects neither
including streets, providing serviced land.
property values nor sales rates.1
3.4.3 Design codes
Design considerations
Break down the development into effective parcels. The PPS32 defines design codes as ‘a set of illustrated design
most important design decisions are how large the parcels rules and requirements which instruct and may advise on the
should be and where to make the joins. Architectural physical development of a site or area. The graphic and written
parcels should be sized according to their position on the components of the code are detailed and precise, and build
street hierarchy. Larger areas should be allocated for low- upon a design vision such as a masterplan or other design and
order streets and smaller parcels for prominent locations development framework for a site or area.’
to achieve a finer grain. Where a fine architectural grain is Design codes should comprise a set of mandatory and
required, the number of design parcels defining a public discretionary design requirements, and a regulatory plan
space might be in proportion to its importance within the which sets out where the provisions of the code will apply.
spatial hierarchy and the scale of the space.
Maintaining design quality 054 055
Construction logic Design codes have been used to achieve high design quality
Development parcels may coincide with architectural on many of the larger sites featured as case studies in this
parcels, or a single development parcel may be divided Compendium. Examples include: Newhall, Upton, Allerton
into several architectural parcels. If the same construction Bywater and Greenwich Millennium Village. Codes have been
technique is to be used across different architectural developed for each of these projects to help create a coherent
parcels (perhaps for economies of construction), this sense of place with a variety of architectural styles, and to
should be made clear from the outset in briefing for the ensure high design quality across development parcels.
architectural commissions.

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As well as maintaining quality, codes can also produce Content of codes

variety in styles by providing a set of design guidance The content of codes will vary according to the context but,
which can be interpreted in different ways while maintaining as with frameworks, these can be grouped under the key
common principles. elements of urban design as set out in the Urban Design
Compendium: appreciating the context, creating the urban
Research has found that it is sites such as these (large
structure, making the connections, detailing the place and
sites where delivery is phased either over time or between
managing the investment. CLG’s ‘Preparing Design Codes:
different design teams) that benefit most from the use
A Practice Guide’ details the possible design elements and
of design codes.3 On such sites, codes help to maintain
provides guidance on how these can be coded.4
quality by identifying the elements of the masterplan that
are fundamental in creating a sense of place, and translating
Roles and responsibilities 056
these into a set of detailed design instructions.
It is important that there is clear understanding of the roles
Codes also produce additional benefits for a range of and responsibilities of the coding team. This should cover
stakeholders (see table 3.4). But codes should only be areas such as leadership, resources and enforcement.
developed for sites where all stakeholders are committed Codes are usually developed by an urban design team
to raising design quality. on behalf of a landowner, in collaboration with the local
authority and technical stakeholders. This helps to develop
consensus on what is required, and to ensure that codes are
Stakeholder compliant with planning and technical requirements. Codes
are then provided to developers for each parcel, often with
Landowner • Can help optimise return from land
an accompanying brief to detail specific constraints.
• Provides certainty on design quality
of scheme Implementation and enforcement
To ensure that the design quality set out in the codes is
Developers • Provides certainty on design delivered on site, careful consideration needs to be given
requirements at the outset to how they are implemented and enforced. A code can be
enforced through a development agreement, or a planning
• Planning approvals usually obtained
requirement where the code is adopted by the local
quicker for compliant schemes
authority, or both. Which mechanism is most appropriate will
• Provide assurance that later schemes depend on how the project is being delivered (see section
will be of similar design quality 3.3), the level of commitment to the project, and the skills
• Can help optimise return and resources available.
from development
Resources and skills
Local authority • Ensures that development satisfies For codes to be effective it is vital that support from skilled
community aspirations staff is available throughout the process. Where possible
• Provides certainty on design quality those involved in development of the codes should be
of scheme retained to advise developers, landowners and local
authority staff as required. This will ensure that designs
Community • Ensures that development achieves comply with the codes, and it makes it easier to judge
the aspirations of the masterplan whether suggested amendments will improve the codes.
• Provides certainty on the design
quality of the scheme

Table 3.4 Benefits of Design Codes

128 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Remaining involved
Borneo Sporenburg, Amsterdam, Netherlands

The masterplan developed by West 8 for Borneo the architects in organised workshops, challenging them to
Sporenburg in Amsterdam’s Eastern Docklands involved meet their needs by responding creatively to the design code.
the application of a strict set of design codes. The codes
The application of the design codes and the continued role
set parameters on a range of criteria including access,
of the principal urban designers in the scheme has ensured
parking, private open space, storey height, plot width and
the creation of a diverse and innovative, yet harmonious
building materials. Importantly, the codes also specified
development. It has also allowed the scheme to retain the
that dwellings should be designed by a diversity of
character of the Amsterdam canal house typology. The
experience of Borneo Sporenburg has had a significant
As part of the redevelopment of Borneo Sporenburg, 60 free impact on Dutch urban planning and free parcels are now
parcels of land were made available on which private individuals often integrated into new planned neighbourhoods in
were able to build their own homes under the guidelines the Netherlands.
provided by the design codes. These individuals consulted with

The continued role of the urban designers in the development of Borneo Sporenburg has ensured the creation of a diverse and innovative scheme.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 129

3.4.4 Phasing early revenues to offset infrastructure investment,

and planned release of later sites to benefit from
Phasing plan locational value created
Phasing options should be considered both from the outset
of the masterplanning process and after the initial site Delivery of facilities at appropriate thresholds
investigations (relating to issues such as land ownership, Comprehensive development needs to secure the
site conditions and constraints, and title review) have been necessary infrastructure at the right time. This may include
completed, as this will influence the business planning of early investment in mixed-uses. Schools and other public
the project. The timing of the project and the delivery of amenities will usually be scheduled through a section 106
its phases must be set out in the masterplan, as certain agreement attached to the planning consent.
elements of a development may depend on securing The business model should be developed in the light of
pre-lettings or sales. Phasing should build in flexibility to an understanding of the likely impact of these investment
respond to changing market conditions. thresholds on the cost programme, property and land
If the project is likely to be delivered by a number of values, and the speed of sales.
developers, and if amenities will be coming on stream Large projects require considerable investment to achieve
in later phases, it may be necessary to secure planning a development allocation, and complete the planning and
contributions or tariffs from earlier phases, this should be design stages – almost all at high risk. For a project to
built into the business model. reduce some of this burden, developers will seek to optimise
There are three main components to a phasing plan: the revenue-producing uses at an early stage. All parties
need to understand this when they are negotiating the timing
• Construction sequence and infrastructure/utilities and nature of planning obligations. The desire to achieve
delivery plan early returns should not be allowed to compromise the
• Delivery of facilities at appropriate thresholds quality of the overall project. Short-term gains can be won at
the expense of creating value in the medium and long term.
• Designing development parcel release structure to
facilitate early delivery of amenities while optimising


1. Large-scale masterplans must take account 3. The sequence of a project’s delivery can raise
of how the site can be subdivided into its profile, ensure facilities and amenities are
development parcels. Such subdivision can provided to its residents at the right time, and
help to achieve successful urban design. help in creating a community.
2. Design codes can help to create a sense of
place and ensure high standards of design
across development parcels.

1. More than tenure mix: Developer and purchaser attitudes to
new housing estates. 2006. Joseph Rowntree Foundation
2. Planning Policy Statement 3: Housing. 2006. CLG
3. Design Coding in Practice: an evaluation. 2006. UCL/
Bartlett School of Planning/Tibbalds
4. Preparing Design Codes: A Practice Manual. 2006. CLG

130 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk


3.5.1 Choosing an approach

3.5.2 Assessment

In achieving successful, high-quality development, allows a degree of negotiation before the quality and
it may be necessary for both the public and private financial offer are agreed.
sectors to procure partners to work with them in
delivering the project. Procurement in either sector has Competition 057
the same challenge. How does one identify and secure Where the achievement of design quality is a material
an appropriate partnership with a third party who will consideration, a tendering process should be adopted in
share your objectives and vision for the project and which a developer’s design approach is measured alongside
has the necessary resources, skill and commitment to other matters such as relevant experience or performance.
help deliver these objectives effectively? The guidance
A developer competition will require bidders to put forward
below sets out one approach that can be effective in
their potential approach to the development of the site in
procuring quality partners. It is important to ensure that
response to a detailed development brief. A development
the procurement method chosen suits the objectives of
competition will often comprise of two or more stages,
the project.
depending on the scale and complexity of the project.
A good procurement process will be designed to Having a phased approach to delivery helps bidders avoid
maximise confidence that both parties understand each wasted professional fees or internal resources, by trying to
others’ objectives, and share an understanding of how identify a smaller group of potential partners most suited
the project will be delivered while minimising resources to the project before asking for more detailed submissions.
and risk. It is essential that a comprehensive brief is This approach, often referred to as pre-qualification, helps to
written and agreed by all the stakeholder partners, reduce abortive costs. In comparison to a one stage process
including a clear methodology for how responses to the it keeps the number of developers submitting fully worked
brief will be assessed and delivery monitored. Where one up proposals to a limited number.
of the stakeholder groups may have conflicting interests
Stage one, pre-qualification, will seek to establish the
in the project (such as a local authority’s estates
capacity (skills and financial resources) of tendering parties
department and its planning department), a consensual
to undertake a scheme, their experience of delivering similar
approach must be agreed before the brief is completed.
projects, and their general approach to development. This
The financial and legal requirements and obligations of
may or may not involve some initial design work. More
each party must be clearly defined, and all prospective
usually it involves bidders submitting examples of previous
partners should be confident that they are bidding on a
schemes. Shortlisted developers will be invited to submit
fair and level playing field.
a second-stage bid, with a significant amount of design
and financial detail. Some project sponsors may use pre-
3.5.1 Choosing an approach
qualification to identify an appropriate shortlist of potential
There are a number of ways of disposing of an interest in partners to which they will offer development and partnering
land and property: private treaty, auction, informal tender, opportunities exclusively.
formal tender, negotiated tender or through a partnership
The second stage of a development or partnering
arrangement. If a formal approach to tendering is taken,
competition will involve weighting different aspects of a
bidders must clearly illustrate the quality of their proposed
bid and assessing each element of a scheme competitively.
bid (submitted with the accompanying financial offer), and
The aim is to select a winner that best meets the set of
they are contracted to achieve this. An informal tender
pre-agreed competencies required to deliver the
project’s objectives.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 131

All bidders must be given access to the same level of • Site location and context
information about the site. It may be useful to set up a The site address, ownership, location, description
timetable of site and briefing meetings to manage the and appropriate maps.
information transfer process. In the interests of fairness, any Brief description of the site should include:
critical points that emerge from conversations with individual
• Size of the site
bidders should be communicated to all prospective bidders.
• Site access
Briefing for design quality 058 • Condition of any existing buildings on the site
A good brief should not only describe the development • Any listed buildings on the site
opportunity but also set out the vision for the development. It
• Any appropriate plans or images
should outline the detailed technical and financial objectives
of the project, and the rules of the competition. • Relationships of the site with other areas

There is a direct correlation between the quality and

• Site constraints
comprehensiveness of the information provided in the brief
Brief summaries of any assessments carried out on
and the quality of the bids received. If the project sponsor
the site. The full assessments should be included
invests in providing an optimal amount of useful and relevant
in the tender information pack. Brief descriptions
information to each bidder, they will reduce the risk and
of any specific constraints (such as contamination,
cost of bidding and attract a greater degree of interest. The
ecological issues and asbestos).
greater the clarity presented, the lower the risk to bidders.
The brief may be accompanied by a masterplan, a design • Relevant planning history
code, or a detailed site layout setting out what is expected Brief description of any previous planning
of each bidder in design terms. It is often desirable to allow applications on the site.
a degree of flexibility or innovation within each bidder’s
Details of any outline planning permission:
response to the brief. A prescriptive brief is not always the
best solution. The degree of prescription and flexibility • What was the outline planning application
appropriate for each project will relate directly to the value submitted for?
put on design quality in the procurement process. Generally, • Are any section 106 agreements in place?
the greater value placed on design quality in the assessment • Are there any existing masterplans for the site?
criteria threshold, the less design prescription required in
the brief.
• Planning policy context
This section should set the development site in the
Guide to producing development briefs
national, regional and local planning policy context,
The following is an indicative template for the production of
making reference to:
a development brief:
• Relevant Planning Policy Statements
• Introduction
• Regional Spatial Strategy
Introductory paragraph to the development site and
the opportunity presented. • Sub-regional planning documents
• Local planning documents
• Background information • Supplementary Planning Documents
Broad objectives of project and partners.

• The vision
Description and objectives of the proposed scheme,
and detail of any specific options for development
if relevant.

132 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Obtaining partners through competition
Crown Street Regeneration Project, Glasgow

The Crown Street Regeneration Project received and Communities Scotland) as well as representatives from New
outline planning consent on the basis of a masterplan, Gorbals Housing Association, Laurieston Community Council
phasing plan and detailed design codes. Developer- and Hutchesontown Community Council enforced the delivery
architect teams were then brought on board through a of the quality each developer-architect team had signed up to.
two-stage competition to illustrate; design, build quality Towards later stages representatives of residents and tenants
deliverability, marketability and ensure that the developer associations set up within Crown Street were also included.
believed it was possible.
An empowered steering group, committed project managers and
In addition, the schemes had to illustrate compliance with the the director of the regeneration project ensure that the ideas and
masterplan and design codes. Development agreements and aspirations of architects and masterplanners are taken through
regular assessments by the Steering Group which comprised to construction. Transparent steering group working methods,
community members and representatives of the three public absence of political disagreements and most importantly a
partners (Scottish Enterprise Glasgow, Glasgow City Council committed and driven project champion are key to the success
of Crown Street.

Developer-architect teams were selected to work on Crown Street Regeneration Project based on their proposed design, build quality, deliverability,
marketability and their belief in the principles of the scheme.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 133

• Design and masterplanning • Contact details

• Any specific guides relevant to the development Advise potential developers to discuss proposals
and any relevant national guides with appropriate staff prior to submission.
• Any site-specific design criteria Submission requirements
• Any guidelines for the design and layout of The brief should set out detailed submission requirements
future development stating clearly the procedures to be followed at all stages of
• List the appropriate objective standards required the process, what content is expected in the submissions,
and what form these should take. The brief should set out
• Include details of any specific design or
the information required from the bidders. This could include
masterplan proposals
examples of past work, referees, CVs of key team members,
• Detail any existing or proposed company accounts, project financial information and project
community involvement in the design report. The brief should be clear about the required number
and masterplanning process and scale of drawings (where appropriate), and should
make clear whether models or computer rendered images
• Legal information are acceptable. Submissions in three dimensions should be
Issues related to legal title: encouraged.

• Registered title of the land offered for Submissions should include a design statement. This
development should illustrate how the bidder is making the most of the
• Searches undertaken on the site site’s potential, and meeting national and site-specific
requirements. The brief should ask only for relevant
• Details of any matters ancillary to the legal title
information, being careful not to overstretch the resources
• Any existing agreements for disposal of the site of each bidder by calling for a significant amount of high-risk
work to be undertaken.
• Selecting a development partner
What is the proposed role of the development 3.5.2 Assessment
partner? Depending on the scale of project and its objective, the
The tender process: approach to assessment may vary. Whichever approach is
• Development proposal followed, it should be clearly outlined in the brief, with an
explanation of how it will be assessed and by whom. For an
• Financial proposal
optimal approach to balancing design quality with value for
money, the assessment should be reviewed in three stages:
• Evaluating the submission objective criteria, qualitative assessment and the quality/
Criteria for evaluation – sample headings: price balance.

• Objective requirements
Key objective criteria
• Qualitative assessment Objective criteria should be mandatory for all bids to be
• Financial evaluation criteria deemed compliant. These criteria could cover a range of
requirements such as provision of green space or affordable
housing units, density considerations, or environmental
• Indicative programme
targets such as the Code for Sustainable Homes. These
Indicative outline of the proposed process from
criteria should be the same for all bids. They will generally
the distribution of the development brief until the
be objective: they will not require an individual approach,
proposed start on site date.
but rather an acceptance of the project’s main objectives
and an understanding of how these will be met.

134 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Maintaining community input through the selection process
Heart of East Greenwich

The Heart of East Greenwich will deliver London’s first these were a wide range of assessment criteria. The brief also
major carbon neutral development on a former hospital outlined the likely requirements from bidders at stage two.
site. This will be achieved through on-site generation
The stage two brief pack included mandatory standards,
of heat and power using Biomass CHP, ground source
design parameters and an illustrative masterplan. Also included
heat pumps, thermal storage and photovoltaics,
was detailed feedback from previous community consultation
supplemented during peak periods by gas boilers.
events run by English Partnerships which enabled developers
The process for selecting the developer at Heart of East to appreciate social context. Developers were required to
Greenwich was very effective in inspiring excellent responses present their schemes at a public meeting and towards the end
from all of those shortlisted. The winning bid will establish of the selection process their ideas were displayed in a public
pioneering standards in environmental innovation and create a exhibition. This valuable community feedback enabled those
new, integrated community in a cutting edge development. assessing the schemes to gain a better insight into how each
scheme might work for the communities living there.
The stage one brief set out the vision of creating a new heart
for East Greenwich, founded on principles of sustainable, This approach enabled bidders to respond effectively to an
culturally diverse and socially inclusive regeneration. To extensive range of issues, ensured all submissions clearly
ensure submissions responded to these effectively they reflected the project vision and that community input continued
were translated into thirteen SMART (specific, measurable, throughout the decision-making process.
achievable, realistic and timed) objectives. Accompanying

Detailed feedback from community engagement events ensured First Base’s winning scheme addressed the social and environmental aspirations for the site.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 135

Qualitative assessment
Once a bid has been deemed to comply with objective or
mandatory criteria, it can be judged qualitatively. At this 1-2 Substantially below expectations
stage of assessment it is possible to differentiate between
the approaches taken by various bids and to judge how 3-4 Below expectations
well they will meet the project objectives. It gives bidders 5-6 Meets expectations
an opportunity to illustrate how they will deliver them. The
qualitative assessment should address at least four issues: 7-8 Above expectations

• Site-specific design issues 9-10 Substantially above expectations

• Community engagement
Table 3.5 An example of Scoring Guidance
• Long-term management
• Delivery and financial capability It is important that bidders and assessors have a clear
All bids must address those areas, and pass a minimum understanding of expectations. Proposals should not
defined threshold score for each. All bidders should have be deemed compliant if they do no more than meet
been given an opportunity in the tendering process to expectations in each area, and do not exceed them in some
discuss their approach to each, and their understanding way to aspire toward an optimal solution on each site. All
of the project objectives, with members of the stakeholder those involved in the assessment process must have a clear
group and the assessment panel. Where possible all understanding of the standard required by each relative
competitions should be assessed consistently, using threshold. Fifty per cent design quality to one person may
established criteria and practices, and with a consistent mean something very different to another assessor, so it is
panel or mix of individuals on the panel. The assessment essential to set clear definitions of expectations and how
panel should include representation from the local authority they relate to scoring.
and key stakeholders where possible.
Financial consideration
A minimum threshold should be set for each of the
After the objective and subjective assessments, the third
qualitative areas. No trade-offs should be permitted. For
stage in the process would address the financial status of
example, a scheme should not be considered if it greatly
the bids. At this stage we need to balance the proposed
exceeds the threshold for design quality but fails on
quality of the bid with the relative financial cost or return
deliverability. The bid must be of a consistent quality in
to the project. It is important that bids are reviewed in a
each area.
consistent manner and that we review like with like. The brief
Flexibility between projects can be provided by adjusting should clearly highlight how the financial assessment will be
the relative importance of each qualitative area through the undertaken and what key financial targets must be met.
agreed minimum threshold score. For example, in a large
There are a number of options one can consider when
complex project it may be inappropriate to have detailed
making the final section. Whichever is chosen must be
designs submitted. The relative importance of each bidder’s
defined at the beginning of the process and followed
approach to deliverability and financial capacity may be
through. Changing an approach to accommodate a specific
greater. However, irrespective of the scale of the project,
bid would undermine the fairness of the process and
each bidder should be asked to illustrate how they would
fail to stand up to scrutiny by either a public sector audit
design a section of the development in order to show their
(such as those undertaken by the National Audit Office)
understanding of the project objectives.
or by independent auditors on behalf of private sector
If the project (or this specific phase of a project) is seen to shareholders.
be very important and is required to act as a benchmark
A number of possible approaches to final selection
for future phases, it may be appropriate to set a higher
are outlined below, together with key advantages and
overall average threshold. For example, 60 per cent may be
disadvantages. In selecting an optimal approach it is
the minimum threshold for each aspect of the qualitative
important to balance the quality of proposed development
assessment, but an average of 70 per cent overall may be
with the relative cost or value to society as a whole.
required. This means that each bidder knows that they have
to innovate in one or more areas in order to proceed to the
Define quality, then judge purely on price
next stage of selection. Such an approach should only be
This approach involves setting objective measures of
used when an exemplar scheme is envisaged and may be
quality. Providing all of these are achieved, the successful
deemed too complex for future phases.

136 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

partner will be the one offering the highest return or lowest greater than the market would deliver on its own.
cost to the project sponsor.
This approach allows a project sponsor to tailor their
This clear and simple approach is likely to achieve approach to individual project needs and aspirations. It
efficiencies for partners who bid successively for requires bidders to make a professional judgement to offer
development opportunities. The sponsor is sure of achieving the maximum quality possible at the lowest cost within their
a minimum quality of development delivered at an efficient abilities. The objective of this approach is to attempt to get
cost. But it does not encourage bidders to go beyond the the best response in terms of both quality and price.
minimum quality specified and so may not maximise the
Such an approach may be seen as very high risk by bidders,
opportunity that the project may offer. Bids may become
allowing too many variables and requiring the bidder to
standardised and not respond to site-specific issues.
interpret the individual aspirations of the assessment panel.
This approach is also quite inflexible. It may not allow the
One person’s interpretation of quality over another’s may
project sponsor to choose their ideal partner because of the
be very different. Convincing the assessment panel that the
procedures set out.
bidder has a full understanding of both quality and price
issues may be quite costly.
Define price, then judge purely on quality
If a project sponsor has a minimum financial requirement to
Value judgement and justified recommendation by
make the project viable, they can make this figure known to
assessment panel of stakeholder group based on
prospective bidders as a minimum criterion, and then judge
quality/price assessment
bids based on qualitative issues alone.
This approach, a variation on the other approaches, may
This approach encourages innovation. It can encourage include an assessment of objective and qualitative issues.
bids which strive to achieve the best possible solution to the But it relies on a value judgement by the assessment team
site within the cost parameters. Each bidder has an incentive or stakeholder group, based on information provided, but
to illustrate how they will achieve high quality at lowest not to any fixed ratio.
cost. This may help make the innovations mainstream. The
It allows the assessment panel the maximum degree of
approach makes it easy for the project sponsor to forecast
flexibility to chose the bid that they feel offers the greatest
the financial returns from the project.
value for money to the project sponsor. Such an approach
Within the public sector such an approach may be seen gives the bidders a strong incentive to provide high-quality,
to place too sharp a focus on quality. It may not be seen efficient information in their bid in order to convince the
to offer best value to the public purse, as sufficient quality assessment panel that their approach offers the best
may have been achieved with a much greater return. This solution.
approach also requires significant skills from the assessors
This approach places a heavy burden on the assessment
to determine the highest quality.
panel to justify their decision. Some panels may see the
responsibility as being too great, and may choose safe
Qualitative assessment weighted against relative price
rather than innovative schemes in each case. This approach
in a variable or fixed proportion
may also be difficult to justify to an audit commission.
The relative value of quality can be balanced against the
potential added value in financial terms in order to get a
true representation of true value for money to the project
In choosing the right solution for the project in hand, the
or society as a whole. The relative importance of quality
project team should take due consideration of the skills
as opposed to price can be weighted equally in terms of a
within their team, the objectives of the project and the value
50 per cent / 50 per cent ratio, or the quality aspect can be
for money requirements of their own organisation.
given a greater weighting, such as a 70 per cent / 30 per
cent ratio for an exemplar project, or to set a benchmark


1. The most successful procurement process will help 3. An optimal balance between quality and price
identify the most appropriate project partner through should seek to maximise best value to the project
the most effective and efficient use of resources. and society as a whole.
2. There is a direct correlation between the quality
of the brief and the quality of bids received.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 137
Steering a project through its detailed stages – ideally starting at the design stages – is
to secure planning and technical approvals is essential, so that everyone is committed to
a critical stage of delivery. Each project has the design concepts by the time detailed
to secure approvals from many agencies, technical agreements are required.
including the local authority planning and
The collaborative approach should be
highways services, utility providers, building
continued through the approvals process
regulations and construction codes.
to ensure that required changes do not
Patience and determination are required to reduce the quality of the design.
secure these approvals in ways that enhance
Ensure that the most important elements
the original design concepts, taking the
of transport, streets and service
scheme to new levels of performance rather
infrastructure can be provided in ways that
than compromising and diluting it. The devil
will improve quality of life in the short and
is indeed in the detail: many potentially
long terms.
excellent schemes falter at this stage and fail
to meet initial expectations. Concern for quality must extend into
the construction period. It must influence
Wide-ranging negotiations may be necessary
on- and off-site construction, the early
on large, complex sites. Resolving conflicts
handover of elements of the scheme on
will require a robust project-management
which the emerging community depend, and
process, effective collaborative working and
consideration for how that new community
a vision shared by all players. Consultation
can live alongside construction.
with all stakeholders at an early stage




4.1.1 Urban design in the planning process

4.1.2 Working within a robust, positive planning process
4.1.3 Design evolution and outcomes for planning
4.1.4 Mechanisms to control design quality

4.1.1 Urban design in the planning process Stages through development control
The submission of a planning application and its subsequent
The planning system aims to ensure that all development processing and determination are just part of the planning
delivers places that are of high quality and sustainable. process. Undertaking pre-application assessment and
Projects developed collaboratively and based on sound negotiation will help identify issues early on, preventing
urban design principles should find it easier to obtain delays later in the process which may have a significant
planning permission. impact on staff resources and costs.
Achieving a high-quality outcome will require the support It is also important to recognise the need for post-planning
and commitment of many people. Understanding what decision monitoring to ensure that the design commitments
is required, when and by whom is crucial. Design work are not compromised over the long term. Key planning
must be grounded by sound working practices through stages are set out in table 4.1.
a collaborative, well-managed process. It is essential
to understand the tools available to protect the design
4.1.2 Working within a robust, positive
quality of the scheme and to ensure the place created
planning process
will reflect stakeholders’ aspirations. 059
The following factors must be recognised and addressed:
The development control process
• Project vision and objectives
The granting of planning permission is an important
Establishing a strong vision is vital to build
objective and milestone for any development. All project
consensus on expectations and understanding what
stakeholders will need to work collectively towards the
motivates the stakeholders. This might initially be
production of a high-quality and comprehensive planning
expressed as a set of objectives which become more
application, with supporting material that fully complies with
explicit through design exercises. The concepts
legislative requirements and planning advice. Any submitted
might be recorded through an agreed vision
application material and supporting documentation will need
statement or an early draft of a design and access
to be sufficiently robust so as not to be vulnerable to any
statement. Objectives should be developed into
potential legal challenge from third parties on technical or
explicit design ideas.
procedural grounds.
• Collaborative working 060
Applications may be progressed either in outline or full, or as Collaborative working will enable all parties to inform
some form of hybrid of the two. For large complex projects and influence the evolution of a project, potentially
it is likely to be most appropriate to secure in principle avoiding abortive work for all parties. The new
acceptability through an outline application to avoid spatial planning process will help to draw various
potential abortive detailed work. In all cases, the actual stakeholders together into a development team,
content of any planning application and accompanying understanding that issues beyond pure physical
material should make clear what is being proposed and land-use planning must be addressed through large
provide certainty over the quality of the place. projects.

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Defining the project

Project appreciation
Assessing the initial context, scope and scale

Establishing a vision statement and core project objectives

Vision & objectives setting
Testing against the vision statement

Assessing whether direct to planning application or via interim

Anticipating the outcome
adoption as planning policy

Project management and decision-making structure

Project director and project manager roles
Steering Group and topic specific working groups
Project management
Involving members and the wider community
Project planning, risk identification and management

Appreciating project complexity and the range of issues to cover

Compiling the Importance of the evidence base
evidence base Identifying and engaging with stakeholders
Evaluating the evidence base

Understanding the key issues – impact on design

Engagement – the collaborative design process
Option testing
Evolving, presenting and testing scenarios
Refinement and finalisation of a preferred option

Agreeing the scope of material for a planning application

Establishing the parameters in principles of development (if in outline)
Supporting documents – Planning Statement, Environmental
Finalisation for planning
Statement, Transport Assessment, Design and Access Statement,
Social Infrastructure
Section 106 Heads of Terms

Receipt and validation

Decision making – process mapping and management
Working with statutory consultees, wider consultation, communications
and publicity
Corporate awareness and the role of members
The planning committee, report and decision
Conditions and obligations
Call-ins and planning appeals

Determination to reserved matters and submission of details

Implementation & Relationship to orginal permission
monitoring Acting and monitoring section 106 obligations
Enforcement of conditions and provisions

Table 4.1 Key Planning Stages (Source: ATLAS Guide: Planning for Large Scale Development)

142 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

Assisting large scale developments
The ATLAS Guide - www.atlasplanning.com

The Advisory Team for Large Applications (ATLAS) planning process, ATLAS has undertaken research work on the
provides an independent advisory service to Local Planning Performance Agreements.
Planning Authorities and their partners in relation to the
Based on its substantial experience, ATLAS has produced
evolution and consideration of large-scale development
a comprehensive guide to taking complex, large-scale
development projects through the formal planning process. The
ATLAS was established to assist those local authorities guide also provides specific guidance in relation to a number
experiencing the pressures of increased development activity. of key topic areas that may need to be addressed to enable
The success of the team has been seen by its expansion projects to come to a successful outcome. The information is
from South East and London focus to cover the whole of the being provided through the internet and provides a live and
Southern and East regions also. The Barker Review into Land interactive information web-based resource, frequently updated
Use Planning recommended expansion to provide nationwide with new policy guidance and the learning from real-life project
coverage. In addition to providing assistance with the delivery examples and user experiences.
of high-quality sustainable development and speeding up the

The ATLAS Guide found at www.atlasplanning.com was established as an independent advisory service to local authorities to assist with determining
complex, large-scale projects. The website provides live up-to-date information and lessons learnt from other projects.

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 143

Working collaboratively through planning
Barking Riverside Ltd

Barking Riverside will deliver a sustainable community of complex sub-application process. This means in practice that
10,800m homes, 25,000 people built over 20 years on the the GLA’s Design for London acts on behalf of all three planning
largest brownfield site in London. Barking Riverside Ltd authorities in a collaborative way by joining BRL’s design
(BRL) is a private joint venture company between English teams, who are based on site, thereby being part of the design
Partnerships and Bellway Homes Ltd set up to deliver this process delivering the subsequent sub-framework masterplan
strategic Thames Gateway project. applications for the next stages of the development. In addition,
a Design Advisory Panel comprising design experts from both
Design guidelines have been incorporated as a condition on the
the public and private sectors including an expert from the
outline planning consent and these set out the principle design
off-site manufacturing sector, will be retained, to advise BRL on
parameters, whilst providing the flexibility that is required for the
design elements throughout the lifetime of the project.
scale and duration of the project. The planning consent and the
section 106 agreement details the significant design criteria and BRL will fund and construct the scheme infrastructure to enable
also, as importantly, establishes the design process during the serviced sites to be sold to housebuilders and developers who
development stages. will delivery the site’s under lease structures that ensure the
design guidelines are adhered to and deliver high-quality family
BRL agreed a planning protocol with the three planning
housing to very high sustainable standards.
authorities which will streamline what could have been a very

The planning protocol will streamline the application process with Design for London working with Barking Riverside on behalf of the three planning
authorities to ensure that submissions reflect the design parameters.

144 www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk

• Robust project management A wide range of people, including the general public, will
A robust management structure should be put in need to understand the proposals. Executive summaries
place to minimise potential delay and risk. The aim written in plain English should accompany the technical
should be to build confidence and consensus in the analysis.
scheme before an outline application is produced
and the scheme enters the formal planning process. Evolving proposals
This should clarify roles and responsibilities, identify A comprehensive evidence base is essential in
issues and tasks, and evolve a project plan and work understanding the local issues which will provide the
programme. The structure should be informed by background to robust and effective proposals. Once all the
whatever work has already gone into the project, the evidence has been assembled, a range of options should be
expectations of the partners, and any specific local produced. These will draw together background information
sensitivities or circumstances. to form workable spatial planning solutions.
• The role of planning performance agreements
The components of the project management Involving the community and stakeholders
structure could be formally embodied within a Planning guidance urges that stakeholders and local people
planning performance agreement (PPA) established should be involved in the process of preparing planning
between the local authority and the developer or applications of significant size or complexity. This is likely
applicant. The PPA’s remit is to provide greater to involve a wide range of local authority representatives
certainty in the processes of preparing and and other stakeholders (including local community groups).
assessing planning applications and making Each will have a distinct role and may need to be involved in
decisions. The main focus is on achieving a different ways (see section 1.5).
collaborative, transparent planning process between
partners. The PPA will document an agreement for Understanding the planning balance
the project’s main elements, setting a clear project Every development is different, but common issues needing
management process at the start. detailed assessment will include those relating to land-use
topics such as housing, employment, social infrastructure,
A PPA can help to establish a consistent approach in
open space, retail and leisure facilities. Assessments will be
relation to strong project management, commitment
needed of access and movement, ecology and biodiversity,
of time, resources and political will from the public
and heritage, as well as over-arching considerations such
and private sectors. It should give greater certainty
as project viability, deliverability, environmental impact and
and confidence to the planning process, and improve
planning obligations.
the quality of development proposals and decisions.

4.1.3 Design evolution and outcomes Establishing design parameters and principles
for planning Small-scale projects are likely to proceed directly to detailed
applications. Large development projects are likely to take
Stakeholders should work collectively to produce a the outline planning application route, which establishes
comprehensive suite of documents or outputs that comply the principles of development before undertaking detailed
fully with all of the necessary criteria. Final documents technical work.
Design parameters and principles should be established
• Clearly establish what is being proposed and where at the outline stage to make clear what is being proposed
• Have evolved through a collaborative and what has been assessed as part of the design and
pre-application process access statement, transport assessment and environmental
• Be fully justified and backed up by a robust statement. An outline planning application must include
evidence base a specific set of parameter plans as a formal part of the
application material. These parameter plans should be
• Demonstrate how a high-quality outcome could and
accompanied by a clear statement of (or reference to) the
would be achieved
design principles that would guide development. A schedule
• Contain consistent messages and information of development should also be provided to clarify the scope
• Enable efficient and effective decision-making and scale of development proposed.
through the appropriate due planning processes
• Be written clearly and concisely

www.urbandesigncompendium.co.uk 145

Providing this level of information need not restrict the The design and access statement sets out how inclusive
flexibility of implementation. For example, setting maximum design principles and practice will be incorporated into the
parameters for building areas and heights would retain the development, and subsequently maintained and managed.
flexibility to evolve detailed design within these approved English Partnerships’ Guidance Note on Inclusive Design1
parameters, without dictating exactly what the final scheme